Park to remain closed this week
A morning blaze engulfed and destroyed the main lodge of Mont Cascades over the weekend much to the dismay of the employees, local families, and people who planned for a day at the water park.
“We ourselves had a house fire last year, so this hit hard on our family,” Mont Cascades village resident James Labonte wrote in an email to The Low Down.
The cause of the Aug. 1 fire is under investigation, but is possibly accidental in nature, according to a statement from Cantley communications officer Marianne Tardy.
Once the fire was out, Labonte approached the area to take photos. The pictures he took show devastation. All that’s left standing of the main lodge, which was used during the winter and summer, since Mont Cascades is both a water and ski park, is some rubble and a brick chimney.
A tall plume of black smoke rising from the lodge could be seen from across the river in Chelsea. Chemin Adamson resident Gerry Legault noticed the smoke through his living room window around 8:15 a.m. on Sunday and sent photos of the smoke, which towered over the Gatineau Hills, to The Low Down.
The park will remain closed this week, according to a Aug. 2 post from park management on the Mont Cascades website.
“The entire team is affected by this incident, but we can already tell you that the new infrastructure will be built as soon as possible. Our customers and employees remain our priority and we will put all the necessary resources to make it happen,” Mont Cascades vice president and general manager Luc Desormeaux wrote in the statement.
Park employees are focused on getting the phone and computer system back up in order to communicate with customers about refunds during the closure.
A reopening plan should be ready by Aug. 6, but staff await expert advice before considering the possibility of reopening this summer, according to the statement.
The statement notes that no interview will be given on the subject.
No injuries, other than a park employee who inhaled smoke and was “slightly affected,” were reported, according to the MRC des Collines Police.
The Val-des-Monts, La Pêche, Chelsea, and Gatineau Fire Departments helped the Cantley Fire Department fight the fire, Tardy said.
“This intermunicipal collaboration, which brought together about 50 firefighters and 15 vehicles, made it possible to save [two nearby] buildings,” she wrote.
The fire was so hot that the plastic on some vehicles in the nearby parking lot melted.
Firefighters arrived shortly after getting the reports of the fire at 7:30 a.m. to see the fire already spread to the roof and smoke billowing out of the eaves. The Low Down attempted to take photos of the scene during the fire, but was turned away by emergency personnel.
Photos shared on social media show the lodge fully engulfed in flames, which shot up and out of the roof.
Firefighters stayed on scene to monitor and extinguish small secondary fires until 11 p.m., Tardy said.
Messages of support and encouragement poured onto the Mont Cascades Facebook page following the fire.
“Over the years, a truly loyal community has been built around this mountain and we are extremely touched by the messages received," Desormeaux wrote in the statement.