Charred remains of the Hardy Bay Industrial Centre fire. (Zoë Ducklow)

No plans to rebuild Hardy Bay Industrial Centre after fire, owner says

A massive fire burnt down the old building in April

North Island Rockpro owner Bill Milligan says he has no plans to rebuild the Hardy Bay Industrial Centre building after a fire almost destroyed it entirely on April 18.

Milligan was not surprised the old building went up in smoke.

“From the day I bought it, I knew this would happen sooner or later,” he told the Gazette.

The building was not insured. It’s age and condition, coupled with the welder and mechanic tenants made it nearly impossible to get insurance, Milligan said.

“I guess I don’t have to worry about it burning down anymore.”

Instead of rebuilding, he’s planning to move into the Marshall Glass building, adjacent to the fire site.

The blaze started from a locked room on the ground floor around 9:30 a.m. on April 18. Fitz Jackson’s welding shop, FJ Welding, was obliterated.

“Everything is gone. Everything,” Jackson said.

He watched the fire from across the river where he was working. He’d been at the building that morning, noticed what looked like steam rising off the roof. Odd, he thought, as it wasn’t that hot yet. By the time he looked back across the bay, there was a tendril of smoke. Jackson stood watching, wondering if it was from a machine operating.

Fitz Jackson recalling the mushrooms of smoke he saw from across the river. He lost his welding shop in the Hardy Bay Industrial Centre fire, but is still working with the few tools he had with him at the time. (Zoë Ducklow)

“In about three second, we see like a mushroom smoke go up — one — two — three — boom! boom! boom! We could hear it [across the water]. And we said no, that is a fire,” he recalled. “It started off so slow. It comes off so small, just little trickles.”

There was one other person working at Rockpro that morning. He told Jackson later he heard sounds in the walls.

“You know he keeps listening, and he’s grinding, and listening, and it gets louder. He comes out and then he could see the smoke coming out,” Jackson said.

The fire department arrived shortly after 9:46 a.m. and fought the blaze until nearly 10 p.m. It was Port Hardy’s largest fire since 2003 when Alpha Processing burned.

“There was nothing I could do, my shop just burned,” he said. He lost four welding machines, a truck he was rebuilding, and dozens of small tools, as well as a new cutting torch, a box of fresh coveralls waiting for the current pair to wear out, work boots and some clean clothes to wear home.

READ MORE: Massive industrial fire burns down Rockpro building in Port Hardy

Despite the loss, Jackson’s plans haven’t changed. He’ll keep welding until he retires. He just won’t take big jobs – flying into camp, or working on construction projects.

Three crowdfunding campaigns were started to support tenants impacted by the fire. The most successful was a campaign for the Crash Palace Cowboys, a local band who lost all their equipment. So far, $4,505 has been donated to the group.

The fire was not suspicious, according to Port Hardy Fire Rescue.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Business and Industrial


Charred remains of the Hardy Bay Industrial Centre fire. (Zoë Ducklow)

What remains of the Hardy Bay Industrial Centre after the April 18 fire. (Zoë Ducklow)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Nanaimo sees Island’s first nurse practitioner primary care clinic

Nexus Primary Care Clinic opened in late June in south end

Nanaimo chef the Sensitive Vegan takes tongue-in-cheek approach to serious cooking

Jesse Rubboli creates cassava-based recipes and shares them via YouTube and on social media

Oak Bay pandemic project gets 300 submissions

Gage Gallery exhibit shows how people cope during crisis

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help finding missing 19-year-old

Haley Murphy has not been seen since Tuesday, June 30, say police

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read