Emergency plan in motion after fire guts CTV Ottawa newsroom
Published Sunday, February 7, 2010 3:54PM EST
Fire swept through the CTV Ottawa newsroom, causing at least $2.5 million in damage, and that figure is expected to rise substantially.
The blaze began shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday. The cause of the fire remains unknown and no one was hurt.
The lone security guard on duty, Randy Donaldson, escaped and says "the fire took just six or seven minutes after the first alarm went off until smoke and flame was pouring out the windows."
About 70 firefighters spent two hours keeping the fire contained to the second floor of the sprawling building.
Veteran CTV news anchor Max Keeping says,"Just like someone who loses their home – we rebuild. The entire news operation is gone and we are grateful that no one was hurt."
The blaze destroyed Keeping's office where he had memorabilia from his 37 years at the station.
CTV Ottawa station manager Louis Douville says, "we had emergency plans in place and our next news update during the Superbowl will come from our own parking lot with a satellite truck. At 11:30 tonight we will use the facilities of the A Channel in the Byward Market and for the foreseeable future that is where we will be doing our newscasts." CTVglobemedia owns A and CTV Ottawa.
Douville added "staff will not be going back into the building for several days. Monday morning there will be a staff meeting to tell our people where they will be working, either at home or perhaps at the A Channel building or somewhere else." The 100 or so full time staff will be contacted with details regarding the meeting.
Douville says the $2.5 million damage figure does not capture the full loss of content. Expensive cameras, computers and other technical gear could put the final figure much higher.
A structural engineer looked at the building this afternoon and some work will need to be done to ensure it remains safe. For example, cables holding up a broadcast tower atop the building must be tested to make sure they are not compromised. Then insurance people and clean up staff will begin their work.
The floor that was hardest hit contains work stations for reporters and producers as well as edit equipment and some of the news videotape archives. How much of the archives might have been lost is not clear. If the tapes were not exposed to high heat they may be saved. Videotape storage is at a couple of locations in the building.
The CTV building was built in 1961 and for many years CTV National News had offices there.
CTV affiliates in Toronto and Montreal are providing cameras and edit equipment, while people in the Ottawa community have offered office space.
Douville says "community response has been amazing with offers."