On most nights the Inglis Street condo building fire would be the lead story on the CTV supperhour news. But on Tuesday, May 8, it doesn’t even make the first 10 minutes of the newscast, as that prime space is taken up by “team coverage” of the flooded Saint John River.
In fact, anchor Steve Murphy, 57, was doing his on-location Anderson Cooper schtick in New Brunswick just the night before. And many expected him to stay on scene for at least another day. But there he was, back at the anchor desk in Halifax in time for the 6 o’clock news on Tuesday.
“It’s a personal matter,” he told me politely via phone when I called to ask him whether his direct and, um, personal ties to that fire had anything to do with why he returned to Halifax so soon.
Property records show that just a few weeks ago — on April 24 — Stephen Douglas Murphy and his girlfriend of seven years, Sara Courtney Colburne, purchased Unit 2, Level 1 of 5460 Inglis Street, which is assessed at $262,900. Both of their names are on a mortgage from the Royal Bank in the amount of $247,000.
I understand the romantic relationship has run its course, and Sara moved into her new condo by herself on April 30, a week before the fire drove her out.
Watching Steve Murphy’s ex-girlfriend being interviewed by CTV reporter Ron Shaw on the news that night — standing across the street from a property that Steve owns — you have to wonder whether he sometimes dreams of anchoring a national newscast, or at least something in a larger market, where the risk of such closeness is somewhat reduced.
“There was a Halifax Regional Police officer who came pounding on our door in the middle of the night,” she says, adding that she would eventually watch him making numerous trips in and out of the building to ensure that everybody was safe.
“They may be able to save the facade, if nothing else,” Ron intones about the historic building next to the Ultramar that housed a dozen condo units.
The report cuts away to something else. When it returns for another clip, her voice wavers when she speaks of the kind and supportive firefighters.
“We really appreciate it,” she says.
She is identified in a graphic as building resident “Sarah.” Note the misspelling.
It was back in 2011 when I first noted the two were an item, one year after the Saint John native confirmed in a statement to Frank that he and his second wife, former BT producer Jocelyn (nee Corkum) had separated (Frank 586).
Steve has two children, 30ish Nora Nunn-Murphy — from his first marriage to Jim Nunn’s sister Noreen — and 20ish Brendan, by his second wife.
Sara was 33 when they first got together. Steve was 51.
An event planner for oil and gas industry lobbyist OTANS back then, I believe they first met at the Old Triangle. She a waitress, he a patron.
In late 2011, they bought a duplex in the Hydrostone together (Stairs Place, 2018 property tax assessment: $297,500).
Property records also show their names on a pile in Chester Basin (Clayton Eisnor Road, $193,000) purchased in 2014, and a Falkland Street, Halifax condo ($134,300), purchased in 2016.
Sara was by her man’s side when his father, Doug Murphy, underwent emergency surgery for a hematoma at the age of 78, and two years later in 2013 when he died.
After a stint as the director of stakeholder engagement at the Maritimes Energy Association, she’s now a senior consultant in the Halifax office of National Public Relations.
Now deemed suspicious, there are multiple reports that a loud bang was heard around the time the fire started. And although firefighters were unable to find an ignition source, they’ve determined the fire started in an alcove at the back of the building.