One of the buildings at Kelowna’s historic grist mill went up in flames overnight.
@IAFF953 and @KelownaRCMP on scene of the Grist Mill property at the bottom of Dilworth Mountain investigating an over night fire that burned one of the old buildings. Check @KelownaCapNews for the story pic.twitter.com/pWY6JQCynI
— Jen Zielinski (@Jen_zee) April 22, 2020
Crews arrived to Brent’s Grist Mill at 3 a.m. on Wednesday to find the Fleming House engulfed in flames. Damage to the structure was significant.
“The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. We are on scene today and investigating a possible cause but we believe the building will be a total loss,” said fire chief Travis Whiting.
The site was secured by a chain-link fence and the gate was locked when fire crews arrived. The city has enhanced security patrols at the site.
“It’s very disappointing to lose a heritage structure, particularly after so much work has gone into moving the Fleming House to a new location and rehabilitating the building,” said Derek Edstrom, the city’s divisional director of partnerships and investments.
“We will continue to focus on the heritage elements of the remaining grist mill as we look to adaptive reuse of the site to capture the historical importance of the structure on early settlers’ lives.”
The Kelowna Fire Department and RCMP are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire.
The Brent’s Grist Mill building is one of three structures (farmhouse, milk house and cairn) that were relocated to the site in 2002 and were designated for protection by city council in 2004. The three heritage buildings are listed on the municipal heritage registry as well as the provincial and national heritage registers.
The Brent’s Grist Mill is the oldest surviving purpose-built grist mill structure in Western Canada and represents one of the first industrial enterprises in the Okanagan. The mill was built in 1871 using hewn post and beams, sawn joists and vertical plank exterior boards and battens.