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Roxboro legion gutted by fire, destroying prized antiques and cache of fundraising poppies

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Members of the Royal Canadian Legion in Roxboro are doing what they can to rebuild after a fire tore through the building earlier this week, effectively destroying precious antiques, as well as fundraising plans. 

The legion branch has been a Roxboro fixture since 1957. Now it's trying to determine what to do next.

Since Tuesday’s fire, former branch president Martin Bruyere has spent his time rummaging through the rubble for artifacts of war.

“This is a WWI Lee-Enfield 303,” he said, gesturing to a charred rifle. “It's hard to say, but it's probably irretrievable.”

Found in the rubble, and mostly undamaged, a portrait of General Georges Vanier -- a gift to the branch from his wife.

“There are things we haven't found yet, like the propeller of an airplane,” said branch president John Floud. “It's got to be in there somewhere, but we don't know where.”

They did eventually find the propeller – which belonged to a Spitfire fighter plane.

The fire alarm went off at 4 a.m. Friday.

“I opened the first door, and realized when I got in there was sweat on the windows inside,” said Floud.

The legion believes a shorted air exchanger on the ground floor caused it. Now, they're trying to figure out where to go during the clean-up.

“We have many of our community buildings, for example, that we give out to non-profit organizations. We've already started since yesterday to look at some of the opportunities to house them,” said Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis.

The timing couldn’t be worse, with Remembrance Day around the corner. There were five thousand poppies on the second floor which, depending on the year, could have been used to raise between $10,000 to $40,000.

“Which is how we make money to help support the veterans,” said Floud. “Bingos at Ste. Anne's Hospital, and local community services such as cadets.”

It seems they won’t be useful now, he said, since they ‘smell too much of smoke.” 

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