Fire at The Village Hearth Farm-to-Table Restaurant in New Denver

by Jan McMurray * Originally Published in the Valley Voice Feb 23

The Village Hearth Farm-to-Table Restaurant on New Denver’s main street was heavily damaged by fire on the night of Sunday, February 19.

The kitchen was destroyed, and the seating area was damaged by extreme heat and smoke. The fire was discovered just before midnight. No one was in the building at the time. The New Denver and Area Fire Department responded immediately and quickly contained and extinguished the blaze, which originated at the back of the building.

The cause of the fire is unknown, and is under investigation. The adjoining storefront, What’s In Store, is virtually undamaged, and the apartment upstairs has smoke damage but very little fire or water damage. The fire separations done during the renovation of the building six years ago are clearly very effective. Bradley Bennett, who lives nearby and owns What’s in Store, was walking his dog Tikka just before midnight when the dog took off and ran to the back of the burning building. When Bennett realized what was happening, he ran up the exterior stairs to the apartment to warn the tenant. Thankfully, no one was home. Bennett was later taken to the health centre to be treated for smoke inhalation. His partner, Sonya Stang, called 911. Rory Pownall, who co-owns the building with her brother Sean, was Village Hearth Restaurant heavily damaged by fire in Revelstoke at the time and drove home right away. She had leased the restaurant to the Healthy Community Society of the North Slocan Valley,
which had been operating the Village Hearth Farm-to-Table Restaurant since October. The restaurant had been open for brunch from 10 am to 2 pm
that day. Both the Pownalls and the society have insurance.

This is one of New Denver’s beautifully renovated heritage buildings. Constructed in the 1890s, it was a store in the early days. Pownall’s mother, Colleen McCrory, purchased the building in the 1970s. She ran a store and the Sears outlet there, and
then it became the Valhalla Wilderness Society offices from around 1990 to 2009. During the renovations six years ago, the restaurant was created.
Pownall operated Rory’s Restaurant for three years before leasing it to the society.