By Mike Williscraft
A three-alarm fire burned for seven hours before being brought under control causing $2 million-plus in damages on Thursday afternoon in downtown Grimsby.
Grimsby Fire Chief Mike Cain said the initial call came in at 1:20 p.m. and at about 1:45 p.m. it seemed firefighters had been able to get ahead of the flames.
However, fire got into the walls and roof of the “balloon construction” building, which made it near impossible to extinquish.
“We got the big initial fire knocked down and thought we had it. When we investigated, we realized it was in the walls and roof,” said Cain, who added more than 70 firefighters were fighting flames at one point.
Lincoln and West Lincoln Fire were also called in at 3 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. respectively.
The Dressing Room, Pics Plus, Yoga Plus and CTS Computer Repairs as well as two apartments were destroyed. There were no injuries and two dogs were freed from one apartment with no problem.
Town of Grimsby officials set up meetings for the residents and businesses in the core to create a solid information base for all. A 211 information line was also put in place.
Kevin Pahor of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office said the final report would be “at least” a month before being made public and it could be longer.
“We have recovered some video surveillance footage from inside the building from security cameras and the equipment was damaged,” said Pahor.
“We will wait to see the results of that, so it could be a while.”
As for the future of the buildings, both Cain and Pahor said that would be up to an engineers assessment but both noted that, being a century building and balloon construction (design went top to bottom with no break in between floors so damage is thorough) it was noted renovating as opposed to rebuilding was unlikely.
“It is an integrated building. Pics Plus, which was in the centre, was devastated, so it would be tough for the structure to hold its integrity,” said Cain.
The age and design of the building made fighting the blaze very difficult, said Cain.
That, and shifting winds kept firefighters from gaining control until about 8 p.m. Thursday night.
Main and Elm were only partially opened after 4:30 p.m. on Friday and the site was shifted from being a fire scene to a construction site with initial demolition of the rear of Pics Plus starting right way.