Pub arson rumour unfounded, fire services spokesman says
Cheshire Cat blaze probe in early stages
Ottawa Fire Services spokesman Marc Messier says “chatter” suggesting Monday’s fire at the Cheshire Cat Pub could be part of a string of arsons is unfounded.
But his assurance might not come as a relief to the anxious west-end residents wondering on social media whether the $700,000 fire that destroyed the historic pub is somehow connected to three other fires in the area in the past two years.
Even Ottawa Councillor Eli El-Chantiry said he asked the fire chief on Monday whether the fires could be related.
“I admit it crossed my mind, even before I saw the comments on Facebook and Twitter,” El-Chantiry said.
The fire chief told him it was “premature” to rule out anything.
“Obviously, they’re investigating and they’re going through the process because each fire has its own story,” said the councillor for West Carleton-March.
Messier, the fire department spokesman, said a $2.5-million fire that started in the kitchen at the Thunderbird Sports Centre in February 2011 was accidental.
“It was due to an electrical failure,” he said.
Likewise, the provincial fire marshal blamed a malfunction of the heating system for a blaze at Carp Agricultural Hall exactly a year ago Monday. In that case, a gas-fired wall heater ignited the wall on the second floor of the building, causing $100,000 in damage.
The cause of a May 2012 fire that destroyed a nearby banquet hall called the West Carleton Meeting Centre is unknown, Messier said. But fire services aren’t treating that fire, which caused $2 million in damage, as suspicious.
Messier said the investigation into the latest fire is still in early stages, but officials are looking at surveillance tape from the pub’s cameras to see if anything untoward happened before it began.
However, the building at 2193 Richardson Side Rd. was “secure” when firefighters arrived at around 4 a.m., “indicating the fire started inside,” he said.
“I don’t know where all the chatter about this being an arson” is coming from, Messier added.
“None of those fires were ruled to be arson.”
Ottawa police Const. Marc Soucy said the arson unit takes its cues from the fire marshal and is not involved in this investigation.
“If he asks for our help, we’ll be there. If there are connections, we will find them,” said Soucy.
No one was injured in any of the fires.
Fire destroyed the Cheshire Cat Pub on Richardson Side Road in Carp early Monday. There is no indication arson was involved, a fire spokesman says. No injuries reported.