Ottawa firefighters cut lock to enter top-secret installation

OTTAWA—An Ottawa fire revealed that one of the federal government’s most secret installations had an “extreme vulnerability” as it was being constructed — a back gate secured by only a simple padlock.

Ottawa fire crews responding to the blaze cut open the lock and swung open the gate to gain access to the new sprawling campus of Communications Security Establishment Canada.

In the wake of the fire, which caused only minor damage, officials at the ultra-secret agency responsible for electronic surveillance fretted that news of the easy-access would leak out.

And after the Star requested documents related to the incident, agency staff sought to clampdown on the release of all potential security shortfalls with dire warnings that any disclosures would leave the agency vulnerable to “attack.”