$7 million Thornbury-area home destroyed by fire

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A multi-million dollar home was completely destroyed by fire early Monday morning.

The Artisan on Lora Bay – as it was called in the Sotheby’s Canada listing – was listed for $7 million. A sale was set to close in May, according to the Town of Blue Mountains Fire Chief who had spoken with the owner on-site, and a next-door neighbour.

Fire Chief Steve Conn said there were no injuries as the home was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

A multi-million dollar home burns west of Thornbury near the Lora Bay Golf Club early Monday morning. Photo supplied.

Favourable overnight wind conditions and access to a hydrant at the property’s edge helped in saving the nearby landscape and neighbouring home – save for a few trees – Conn said.

An excavator was being brought on scene at 10:30 a.m. Monday to bring down the roof of the completely gutted structure so the fire marshal could better investigate the cause of the blaze.

The Ontario Provincial Police are investigating the fire as well, a press release distributed Monday said.


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Conn said it was too early to tell what set off the massive structure fire just before 3 a.m.

A Sotheby’s listing for the 9,300-square-foot waterfront mansion advertised a steam room, professional-grade appliances, glass-walled elevator, exercise room, theatre, and wine-cellar grotto. An online video produced by the realtor boasted the home featured a solid-oak staircase and custom natural stone accents with floor-to-ceiling views of the bay.

It was all gone before the fire crews arrived, Conn said.

A recently sold multi-million dollar home smoulders on the shores of Georgian Bay west of Thornbury near the Lora Bay Golf Club hours after it was fully engulfed by fire early Monday morning. Greg Cowan/The Sun Times

There were 27 Town of Blue Mountains firefighters on scene at the height of the blaze working to limit the fire to the massive structure. By late Monday morning, they were putting out flare-ups. Conn expected crews would remain on scene for hours yet.

Neighbours walked to where the OPP had a cruiser parked at the entrance of the property to try to get a look at the burned-out building. The remnants could be seen from across the water at Lora Bay Park. Smoke rose through the trees from the still-smouldering steel skeleton.

Mike Hutchings lives in the house next door. His wife called 911 just before 3 a.m., while he collected his son, dogs and the passports to wait outside not sure if his home would burn down too.

“We heard a bang and we thought, my wife thought initially, maybe a snowplow had hit a car or something,” he said. “The thing had gone up pretty quick at that point. It didn’t take long for the flames to be billowing out the roof.”


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Hutchings said by the time they got outside fire crews were on scene and they were assured their home would be safe and they didn’t need to evacuate.

“They couldn’t do anything for it. They said by the time the hoses were here it was too far gone,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings has lived in his house for 10 years. He said about two years ago, or maybe more, the house beside his was torn down to make way for the new development.

The mansion consumed by fire Monday was set to be the first of a five property “inner sanctum” according to the Sotheby’s listing.

Hutchings said the area had been a bustle of construction activity in recent years.

“There were lots of people who used to come down here. It was like a parade. They were working on it for a couple of years, at least, working on this whole project, and just before it’s supposed to close it lit up,” he said.

A screengrab from a Sotheby’s listing video shows the home at 189 Lake Drive in the Town of Blue Mountains before it was completely destroyed by fire early Monday morning. Sotheby’s/YouTube.