Butlerville ghosts busted
Haunted House owner feels tricked by way he was treated
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.