4 slightly injured after massive fire at Niagara winery


Four people were slightly injured after a massive fire at a St. Catharines winery, according to the local fire chief.

St. Catharines Fire Services (SCFS) tweeted about a large structure fire at the Hernder Estate Winery at 11:37 p.m. Saturday.

“Avoid this area – do not visit – multiple department fire operations on site,” he said on Twitter.

As of 2 a.m. Sunday, SCFS said the fire was still burning, bringing in firefighters from Niagara Falls, Thorold, Pelham, West Niagara, West Lincoln and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Fire Chief Dave Upper told CBC Hamilton about 63 firefighters were on the scene with 21 pieces of equipment to battle the blaze.

“Crews made an absolutely incredible shutdown to contain this fire in the original banquet hall and storefront area. And so we kind of lost the facade, say, 25% of the facility, but we were able to save the other 75 per cent of the facility,” he said in an interview Sunday morning, noting that the warehouse and production facilities were spared.

Upper said there were three overhead water towers and firefighters hit the north side of the building with heavy water. They also used ground lines and main streams to keep the fire from spreading to the rear of the property.

Bryce Brunarski, spokesperson for Niagara Emergency Medical Services, said a man was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

He also said three men had minor injuries but did not want to go to hospital after speaking with police and firefighters. One of them eventually drove himself to the hospital, according to Brunarski.

He added that the amount of smoke and wind made it difficult for paramedics to set up a place to assess injuries.

Police said in a news release that the Department of Labor has been notified.

Upper said the Office of the Fire Marshal will not be attending the scene and police have closed nearby roads as firefighters are still tending to hot spots and sorting through damage.

It is unclear what caused the fire and how much the damage will cost.

The fire is a “devastating loss” for the community

Upper said there was a craft show at the venue this weekend.

Brittny Mio is a volunteer with the Mom Market Collective, which hosted this show on Saturday. He planned to continue on Sunday.

She said about 50 vendors attended and Saturday was happy, Sunday was gloomy.

“It wasn’t even just the products that went up in flames, it was all the time and months they spent making all of these products,” Mio said.

“They lost everything.”

She said there was a GoFundMe page to support sellers. Mio is hoping for $500 per seller.

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik wrote about the fire Sunday morning on social media, calling it a “significant loss” to the community, although the entire winery was not destroyed.

“Our hearts go out to the Hernder family today (Fred, Chris & Angel and their family and employees) with the devastating loss of the iconic buildings at Hernder Estate Winery,” he said. wrote on Facebook.

“It has hosted so many weddings and events over the years. Hernder is one of Niagara’s oldest wineries – a pioneer of the grape and wine industry in many ways.

St. Catharines County Lori Littleton too tweeted his thoughts are with the family.

“It’s a devastating loss for our community. I got married there along with countless other people.”