UPDATE: Arson arrest made after fire ravages historic First World War munitions factory in Lindsay
The Examiner
 

A man has been arrested and faces arson charges after a fire tore through the old First World War munitions factory in Lindsay during the early hours of Wednesday (July 20).

Firefighters were still at the 45 James St. scene as of noon on Wednesday.

Later Wednesday afternoon, Kawartha Lakes police issued a press release stating a man had been arrested in connection to the blaze. Police say emergency personnel responded to the scene around 1 a.m. Officers began searching the area for suspects while firefighters battled the blaze.

"Police received information that a male was being treated for burn wounds by emergency medical services at a Lindsay Street South business," reads the release.

Officers attended and arrested the accused, Riley Cormier, 25, of Lindsay, for arson – damage to property and fail to comply with probation order X2.

Police said as a result of further investigation, the accused has also been charged with arson – damage to property x4, arson – disregard for human life and fail to comply with probation order x9 in relation to five alleged fires reported since April, including the iron bridge fire in Lindsay.

The accused will appear for a bail hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice in Lindsay on July 20.

Kawartha Lakes Fire Chief Terry Jones told This Week about 30 firefighters worked in the oppressive summer heat to fight Wednesday's fire at the old James Street factory.

“This is a huge building,” he added, noting that about a third of the building, which was built around 1916 and used to make ammunition for the war effort and later as the Trent Rubber factory, was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived.

In addition to the extreme heat outside, battling the fire has been a challenge for fire crews because the abandoned building was boarded up and hydrants are quite a distance away from the scene, said Jones.

“Luckily enough this was mainly an exterior attack, so a bit easier than having to get packed up and go inside.”

The Ontario Fire Marshal has been called in to help with the investigation, said Jones.

According to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 67 in Lindsay, with research provided by the Olde Gaol Museum, Lindsay was selected as the site for one of the 600 munitions factories to be built in Canada; and in 1916 the cornerstone was laid at the James Street property. This was made possible by the efforts of Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence, the namesake of the Lindsay Legion branch.

“By the summer of 1917 the 'Dominion Arsenal' was in full swing; 260 women from Lindsay and surrounding areas engaged in the very dangerous and precise manufacture of cartridges - case, cap-and-bullet - until the end of the War,” reads information posted on the legion website. “Following the armistice, by spring 1919 nearly all of these 'munitionettes' were laid off and the factory sat quiet.”

Twenty years later the factory was back in action once again producing armaments for the Second World War.

“In 1969 the site was sold to a private company - Trent Rubber - which finally closed in 2005,” reads the Legion website.

 

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