But­lerville ghosts busted

Haunted House owner feels tricked by way he was treated

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE

A pop­u­lar Hal­loween at­trac­tion in But­lerville has been shut down be­cause of fire safety con­cerns.

Hayward But­ler re­ceived the chill­ing news last Thurs­day Oct. 29 that his an­nual Haunted House had to be de­mol­ished.

“Dumb­founded and shocked is the only way to de­scribe how I feel,” says But­ler. “It’s re­ally sad. A lot of work went into the house and many kids are go­ing to be re­ally dis­ap­pointed. It was some­thing they looked for­ward to on an an­nual ba­sis.”

But­ler says he and a crew of 25 vol­un­teers have been busy since Au­gust set­ting the scene for the haunted house/crazy hospi­tal in his back­yard. The 150foot struc­ture was con­structed mainly of tar­pau­lin and wood. Last year over 1,600 peo­ple, mostly chil­dren, were brave enough to take the tour.

But­ler says he didn’t have a clue any­thing was wrong with the Haunted House un­til Tues­day, Oct. 20 when Bay Roberts Fire Chief Clarence Rus­sell showed up at his house, with a let­ter from the Fire Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice, stat­ing the build­ing didn’t meet the proper fire codes.

“He (fire chief) said he had a com­plaint from a res­i­dent in the area and be­cause of it we couldn’t go ahead with the haunted house this year,” says But­ler.

The let­ter, writ­ten by fire pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer Greg Lynch of the Fire Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice in Stephenville on Oct. 20, stated:

“This struc­ture can­not, un­der any cir­cum­stances be used as a place of pub­lic as­sem­bly. It is com­pletely de­fi­cient from a point of view of flame spread, fire re­sis­tance, mean of egress, lighting, early no­ti­fi­ca­tion and struc­tural sta­bil­ity. This oc­cu­pancy shall be closed to the pub­lic im­me­di­ately.”

But­ler says he im­me­di­ately con­tacted the Fire Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice and asked what he needed to do to be able to use the build­ing. Then he went to work putting to­gether a floor plan and did ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to bring the haunted house up to the na­tional fire safety code and en­sure pub­lic safety.

He says he also filled out sev- eral applications and sent the in­for­ma­tion to the Gov­ern­ment Ser­vice Cen­tre for them to re­view and ap­prove. He also pled his case to nu­mer­ous other mu­nic­i­pal and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in­clud-

ing MP Scott An­drews of­fice and MHA Roland But­ler.

Sup­port

Last Tues­day night Oct. 27 But­ler and a group of haunted house vol­un­teers showed up at the Bay Roberts Town Coun­cil meet­ing.

“We want you to have your haunted house, we sup­port your fund-raiser, but the is­sue is out of our hands,” Mayor Glenn Lit­tle­john told But­ler and his crew.

“It isn’t our de­ci­sion to make, it lies with the Fire Com­mis­sioner’s of­fice. There is no way we can, or have the au­thor­ity to over­ride th­ese kinds of rec­om­men­da­tions.”

On Wed­nes­day, the day be­fore But­ler got the fi­nal word the Haunted House had to be de­mol­ished, one of the lo­cal schools in the area called to book a school tour.

“We had to turn them away,” he says. “How-ever res­i­dents and many peo­ple from out­side the area have al­ready been here.”

$3,200 col­lected

Ac­cord­ing to But­ler, over the past three years, the Haunted House raised over $5,000 for the Janeway Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal. He hoped to raise an ad­di­tional $5,000 this year.

“We al­ready have $3,200 in do­na­tions col­lected, since Au­gust, and were ex­pect­ing to make at least an­other $2,000 on the Haunted House, be­cause that’s what we made ev­ery year,” says But­ler. “When it was all said and done this year we ex­pected to bring in as much money as we did the past two years. It would have marked our $10,000 mile­stone.”

An­gry and con­fused

The whole sit­u­a­tion has But­ler’s fa­ther Hayward But­ler Sr. an­gry and con­fused.

“It just don’t make sense to me,” he says. “Ev­ery­thing was ready to go and then some idiot puts a stop to it all, he said, re­fer­ring to who­ever it was who lodged the com­plaint. What re­ally makes no sense is in the past the haunted house was built around sev­eral green houses, had a fur­nace in it as well as lots of lights run­ning through it and we never got a com­plaint. It wasn’t a safety or fire haz­ard then, hun­dreds of peo­ple went through it. This year the only thing that is re­ally ques­tion­able or not up to code is the tar­pau­lin that is cov­er­ing it. They (Fire Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice) are say­ing it is not fire re­tar­dant, but I have my doubts about that, I think it is fire re­tar­dant. Any­way the place is bet­ter and more up to the fire safety stan­dards this year than it ever was, yet this year we get closed down.”

Hands tied

Both Hayward But­ler Sr. and Jr. feel the Bay Roberts Fire Chief could have done more to keep the Haunted House open.

How­ever Fire Chief Clarence Rus­sell says his hands were com­pletely tied.

“I re­ally don’t have any­thing to say only that I had a com­plaint and I had to act on it,” says Rus­sell. “I have a job to do and I couldn’t, in good con­science, go to sleep at night know­ing some­one’s life may be in dan­ger by go­ing through this build­ing and not do some­thing to cor­rect it. The Fire Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice said it had to be closed down and I have no choice but to sup­port that de­ci­sion.”

Nosey res­i­dent

But­ler (Jr.) says the blame re­ally falls on the nosey res­i­dent who made the com­plaint in the first place.

“Who­ever did this, and they know who they are, even took pho­tos of the haunted house and sent them into the Fire Com­mis­sion­ers Of­fice,” says But­ler.

“They stood out on the road across from our house, took a photo and then sent it off. As far as I am con­cerned that’s in­fring­ing on some­one else’s pri­vacy and right.”

But­ler says all money raised so far will still go to the Janeway Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal and he is still aim­ing for the $10,000 goal. An­other fund-raiser, a Goods Bingo, is planned for Nov. 15 at the Shearstown Lion’s Club. Hope­fully the event will be a less scary or­deal than the haunted house.

Denise Pike/ The Com­pass

DE­MO­LI­TION - Hayward But­ler Sr., right, and his son Hayward But­ler Jr. de­mol­ish a Haunted House they cre­ated as part of a Hal­loween fund-raiser in sup­port of the Janeway Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal. The Fire Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice found the struc­ture did not meet the fire codes.

Denise Pike/The Com­pass

DIS­AP­POINTED CREW - Just days be­fore Hal­loween a group of young peo­ple show up at a Haunted house in But­lerville to help owner, Hayward But­ler Jr., tear it down.

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