Ontario Fire Marshal assisting investigation into $1.5M NOTL fire
Niagara-on-the-Lake Advance

The Ontario Fire Marshal is being called to assist with the investigation of a two-property fire that occurred in the Old Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake Tuesday afternoon.

NOTL fire chief Nick Ruller said the fire started in a single-storey garage on Simcoe Street and spread to a neighbouring property where the majority of the damage occurred.

There were about 40 to 45 firefighters on scene, and Ruller said the fire was under control in about 30 minutes from arrival.

“However, we had pretty advanced fire condition on arrival so there’s fairly significant amount of damage,” Ruller said.

Total damage between the two properties is being estimated at $1.5 million. Ruller said the OFM is assisting with the investigation based on the high dollar loss.

While the neighbouring home suffered the most damages, Ruller added that there were some other structures that were a total loss as well, such as sheds, a trailer and a bus. A vehicle parked in the driveway of the exposure building also sustained damages.

Ruller said despite a couple of firefighters being treated for heat at the scene by EMS, there were no injuries to civilians.

Christine Denault, owner of the damaged house, said she and her husband were not home at the time the fire started. However, her brother-in-law did happen to be in the house at the time but got out safely.

Somebody knocked on the door to alert Denault’s brother-in-law, and he was able to get out safely with their dog.

“I was hyperventilating,” Denault said when she learned about the fire. “My husband was being the strong one and comforting me.”

She said her husband was aware of some of the material in their neighbour's backyard, such as timber and lumber, so “he knew in his heart that it was going to spread to our house.”

The damaged home was one of three development properties on Simcoe Street that Denault and her husband had been constructing since July 2018. She said the plan was to sell the home they currently live in, which is furthest from where the fire started, and move into the home that is now damaged. The third home was approximately 45 days from completion but will now be delayed.

Currently the couple is assuming the damaged home will have to be completely knocked down and rebuilt, but Denault said they first need to get inside to see the damage.

At this time the cause of the fire has not been deemed to be suspicious.

OFM is expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon to assist with the investigation. Ruller said there might be another update later today; however, if OMF does take full control of the investigation a report on damage cost and cause of the fire may not be available for a few weeks.


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