Grimsby down­town dev­as­tated by fire

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - SCOTT ROSTS AND ALEXAN­DRA HECK

The On­tario Fire Mar­shal’s of­fice has be­gun sift­ing through the ashes of a fire that dev­as­tated a por­tion of Grimsby’s down­town core.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tor was on scene Fri­day morn­ing to probe the af­ter­math of the fire that de­stroyed three busi­nesses and apart­ment units Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Pre­lim­i­nary dam­age es­ti­mates are about $2 mil­lion, said Kevin Pa­hor, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor with the On­tario Fire Mar­shal’s of­fice.

Pa­hor said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is in its pre­lim­i­nary stages, and the cause is un­de­ter­mined, al­though a point of ori­gin has been iden­ti­fied as be­hind the Dress­ing Room salon.

“The fire orig­i­nated on the back end of the prop­erty in the porch area. We are still dig­ging through and try­ing to find a cause,” Pa­hor said Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is just get­ting un­der­way.”

The fire, he said, is “not sus­pi­cious at this point” and noted there were some com­bustibles back there, in­clud­ing a propane tank for a bar­be­cue. He had an­tic­i­pated the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to last at least most of Fri­day.

“Right now, I can’t com­ment on any fac­tors for cause. We are still in the pre­lim­i­nary stages.”

Pa­hor said the ap­prox­i­mate $2mil­lion dam­age es­ti­mate was based on in­sur­ance ad­justers. That num­ber, he said, is just for the prop­er­ties af­fected by the fire and not any nearby prop­er­ties that may have suf­fered any smoke dam­age.

The up­per floors are de­stroyed, while there are likely some items on the lower floors that may be sal­vage­able — de­pend­ing on whether there was any wa­ter dam­age, he said.

As for the fu­ture of the his­toric, cen­tury-old build­ings, en­gi­neers are look­ing at whether or not the struc­tures will have to come down.

Pa­hor said the fire was able to spread quickly and caused ex­ten­sive dam­age due to the old bal­loon­frame con­struc­tion style, which leaves gaps from the floor to the roof.

As well, Grimsby Fire Chief Michael Cain noted a sprin­kler sys­tem wasn’t in place.

The ex­tent of the dam­age and the costs will far ex­ceed what it would have cost to install sprin­klers in the build­ing, Cain said.

“Had th­ese build­ings been sprin­klered, we wouldn’t be faced with what we’re faced with to­day.”

Cain said it’s too early in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to know what role smoke alarms, or the lack thereof, played.

Once fire­fight­ers con­tained the fire Thurs­day night, there was a lit­tle smoul­der­ing overnight in a rear part of the units. “They did a great job knock­ing it down. They just dumped wa­ter on it, and it choked any­thing out,” Cain said.

The fire didn’t breach the post of­fice, one of the ma­jor con­cerns on Thurs­day night. The post of­fice did, how­ever, take on wa­ter in the base­ment. Restora­tion crews have been on-site to clean up the post of­fice.

Cain es­ti­mated about 55 fire­fight­ers were on scene, switch­ing on and off with each other in the near 30 C weather.

He thanked the agen­cies that helped with the re­sponse, in­clud­ing fire­fight­ers from Grimsby, West Lin­coln and Lin­coln, as well as Ni­a­gara Re­gional Po­lice and EMS.

The town set up a re­cep­tion area at the Peach King Cen­tre for fam­i­lies dis­placed by the blaze.

The Red Cross and so­cial ser­vices are work­ing to pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tions for those af­fected.

ALEXAN­DRA HECK, METROLAND PHOTO

The fire mar­shal is con­tin­u­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a fire that did heavy dam­age to sev­eral units down­town.

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