BLAZE IN GRIMSBY:

Cause probed after fire rips through down­town, forces evac­u­a­tion and da­m­ages build­ings

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - ALEXAN­DRA HECK Grimsby Lin­coln News

Down­town Grimsby had to be evac­u­ated after a fire ripped through a build­ing and took more than five hours to get un­der con­trol.

The Of­fice of the On­tario Fire Mar­shal has been asked to help the Grimsby fire depart­ment in­ves­ti­gate the cause of the Thurs­day af­ter­noon fire, the town said in a press re­lease late Thurs­day.

“There are no re­ports of in­juries at this time.”

The blaze seemed con­trol­lable at first but proved stub­born and even­tu­ally spread, flood­ing the down­town with clouds of smoke.

Grimsby, Lin­coln and West Lin­coln fire crews all at­tended the scene of the blaze at the cor­ner of Main Street East and Elm Street. Dam­age is not yet known.

At around 1:30 p.m. those work­ing in­side the hair sa­lon at the cor­ner were ad­vised that the back porch was on fire.

“Some­one knocked at the back door,” said Sarah Wra­bi­utza, who works at the Dress­ing Room sa­lon.

Crews worked dili­gently to con­tain the fire, but it spread to the build­ing next door.

Lisa All­sop, a co-owner of the yoga stu­dio, stood back and watched her en­tire stu­dio burn.

At that point, her build­ing looked as though it was com­pletely un­af­fected. Things got worse, how­ever, as the hours passed.

All­sop’s busi­ness part­ner, Claire Mathews, said she’s glad no­body was hurt, and re­ally at the end of the day, it’s only ma­te­rial items.

“Hon­estly, a cou­ple hours ago, I thought we might have some smoke dam­age. Now I’m not even sure if we’re go­ing to have a build­ing to­mor­row,” she said. “Now we’re watch­ing our busi­ness burn to the ground.”

As smoke bil­lowed from the build­ing it en­veloped the down­town, where the Grimsby Farm­ers’ mar­ket was be­ing held.

“We were made aware of the fire,” said Michelle Se­aborn, a Grimsby al­der­man who runs the mar­ket. “We im­me­di­ately went into an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.”

At around the same time, po­lice cir­cu­lated around down­town busi­nesses and told oc­cu­pants to evac­u­ate the build­ings.

At 8:45 p.m., the town is­sued a press re­lease not­ing the fire had caused “ex­ten­sive dam­age to a num­ber of busi­nesses and apart­ments.”

“The build­ings dam­aged by the fire in­clude a num­ber of his­toric cen­tury-old com­mer­cial build­ings,” the re­lease added.

The town said roads around the fire could be close into Fri­day or longer. A meet­ing for busi­nesses and ten­ants is be­ing planned for the town hall, also on Fri­day.

Fire­fight­ers uti­lized sev­eral aerial trucks to bat­tle the blaze, work­ing to try and stop the fire from spread­ing to neigh­bour­ing busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the post of­fice.

After a cou­ple hours, the fire started to take a turn, with flames spread­ing across the rooftops.

The es­ca­lat­ing sit­u­a­tion prompted po­lice to or­der the evac­u­a­tion and clo­sure of all busi­nesses on Main Street.

Other clo­sures in­clude the Grimsby Li­brary and Art Gallery, which said it was clos­ing at 6 p.m. due to air qual­ity con­cerns.

At times, the streets sur­round­ing the fire were filled with thick black smoke. At one point, the roof of the yoga stu­dio col­lapsed.

The com­mu­nity came out in sup­port of the fire­fight­ers, with sev­eral lo­cal busi­nesses, in­clud­ing pizza and cof­fee shops and gro­cery stores all pro­vid­ing re­fresh­ments.

Around 7:40 p.m., Ni­a­gara Re­gion said the fire had been con­tained.

The Peach King Cen­tre at 162 Liv­ingston Ave. has been set up as a re­cep­tion cen­tre for those af­fected by the fire.

Al­der­man Nick DiFlavio said ho­tels are also be­ing ar­ranged for those who have been dis­placed.

ALEXAN­DRA HECK/METROLAND PHOTO

Down­town Grimsby had to be evac­u­ated after a fire tore through a build­ing and even­tu­ally spread, flood­ing nearby streets with thick smoke.

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