Ontario Fire Marshal's Office Unable to Determine Cause of Welland House Hotel Fire

There are few answers as the Ontario Fire Marshal's office wraps up an investigation into a fire that destroyed the Welland House Hotel in St. Catharines.

Chris Lawson with the Fire Investigation Services Office of the Fire Marshal & Emergency Management says they were not able to determine a cause.

"We did narrow our investigation down into two possible causes and unfortunately we weren't able to eliminate either one. There were a number of cooking appliances that squatters were using inside there. So it could have been an accidental fire due to a cooking appliance - there were actually hibachi barbeques inside. So whether that caused the fire or careless smoking, we're not certain. And similarly, and I would hate to think this, that somebody could have intentionally ignited the fire."

Lawson says evidence was destroyed as the large fire grew undetected. "During our investigation the fire patterns that we normally would use to help direct us to the area of origin and the first fuel ignited essentially were consumed by the fire or were knocked down by the demolition process to make the area safe."

They were able to determine the fire likely started on the third floor, but wasn't detected until it was visible outside.

The July fire completely destroyed the building that was being considered for a heritage designation at the time of the blaze.

City council approved the designation for the Ontario Street building after it had already burned down.



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