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Fire tears through Escapade Eskimo

DANFORD LAKE July 12, 2019
An early morning fire near Danford Lake ravaged a business and home on Friday.
Just before 5 a.m., the Otter Lake Fire Department was called to Escapade Eskimo, a dogsledding company, where they found the main building fully engulfed.
Owner Sylvain Drapeau said that he and his wife Caroline were on vacation in Baie-Comeau when he got the early morning call from friends who had been staying at the lodge.
“It was a long drive to get back home,” he said.
The house-sitters were sleeping when they heard the smoke alarm and all three made it outside unscathed, where they alerted the authorities. None of the dozens of sled dogs on the property were injured either.
Drapeau purchased the lodge, which was an old farmhouse, in 2004 and had made additions over the years as the business grew to accommodate clients. There were two guest bedrooms as well as a kitchen and banquet hall for hosting events.
Otter Lake Fire Chief Denis Chausse said that 15 firefighters in total responded to the blaze, and they were on site until roughly three in the afternoon.
“Around 9:30 the fire was under control, the rest of the time was the hot spots,” he said, explaining that they looked for portions of buried debris that were still smouldering with a thermal camera and doused them to ensure they didn’t re-ignite.
Chausse said that according to his pump operator, they used 44,000 litres of water to extinguish the blaze. Inspectors from the department have yet to determine the cause, but Chausse said that they believe the fire originated in a room on the second floor.
He pointed out that without an early warning from the smoke detector, the day could have been a lot worse.
“To me, as a fire chief, what saved the lives of the people in that house, it’s the smoke alarm,” he said.
Drapeau is already working on rebuilding the business in time for the season, and said he was thankful for all the support they’ve received so far from the community.
“The commercial part will be rebuilt, that’s our priority for next winter because we have six employees with ourselves that need to be working next winter,” he said “The dogs are all ok. The sleds are all ok.”
Choosing to see the bright side of things, he pointed out one peculiar outcome of the fire. A planter full of flowers that was next to the house was untouched by the flames, and the bright colours of the petals stood out against the background of soot and rubble.
A Facebook group called “Escapade Eskimo Rebuild” was started by Drapeau’s neighbour Kathleen Everson to help the Drapeaus with their various needs, and can be found here:


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