Investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office have been called in to investigate a fire in downtown Colborne on Saturday, February 13, 2021.
At approximately 12:34 p.m. Cramahe Fire Department were dispatched to 11 Toronto Street for a possible structure fire. The two-storey building is located at the corner of Toronto Road and Church Street in downtown Colborne.
While responding dispatch updated firefighters they were receiving multiple calls and alarms were activated in the building and possibly people were trapped.
When fire crews arrived on scene there was thick black smoke coming from the upper entrance to the building which housed four apartments totalling approximately eight residents.
Cramahe Township Deputy Fire Chief Matt Halmasy said it was a quick knock down for the fire, but firefighters had to be extremely careful the fire hadn’t spread to other parts of the building.
“A lot of the buildings downtown are older buildings and they’ve been remodelled multiple times.”
Mutual aid was called from Brighton Fire Department, Trent Hills Fire Department with their aerial truck and Hamilton Township for their air support unit to refill breathing apparatus.
Trent Hills aerial truck was used to check the roof area for any fire extension.
Firefighters also worked inside extinguishing the fire and checking for fire extension in the walls.
With a number of voids inside the building walls it can be challenging accessing the fire.
“The guys through quick response, through the firefighters and mutual aid partners were able to make a quick knockdown without a huge loss.”
Four people were transported to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Due to the damage to the building, residents will not be able to return for some time.
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office along with members of the Northumberland OPP Crime Unit are investigating the fire which is deemed suspicious.
Currently the scene is being held by the OPP.
Cramahe Township Mayor Mandy Martin was at the fire scene along with Deputy Mayor Sandra Arthur watching firefighters battle the fire.
This is the second major fire to his Colborne in less than a month. On Friday, January 22, 2021, the Golden Rooster restaurant, which was just to doors down from today’s fire was enveloped in flames. That fire is still under investigation by OPP and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office.
Martin said there is always concern in the community when there are a number of fires.
“I think there is always concern in the community. It doesn’t matter where the fire is. First of all we’re concerned for the people (involved).”
“There were tenants in this building. What’s going to happen to them? Where are they going to be put up?”
With one historic building completely destroyed by fire last month and another one damaged, it’s a significant loss.
Martin said the fire on Saturday was a former opera house that had been turned into apartment buildings.
Watching all emergency services at the scene on Saturday, Martin has high praise for all their efforts.
“No one was injured and I think this was kudos to our volunteer firefighters to the OPP who are right there. To our neighbouring fire departments who come through mutual aid which I can’t say enough about. And then of course I was very impressed by the paramedics. They were there in a shot and were very attentive in looking after people. It’s a real plus in a small, rural community that we all come together and that these people support one another.”
Most of the fire damage was confined to one apartment, but there was smoke and water damage throughout the building.