BELWOOD – The Belwood post office is in shambles after an early morning fire on Nov. 15 gutted the building and rendered it uninhabitable.
Centre Wellington firefighters responded to a report of a multi-unit structure fire at 5 George St. in Belwood shortly after midnight and discovered the post office and units above ablaze.
A neighbour called 9-1-1 shortly after midnight, deputy chief Jonathan Karn said in a phone interview at around 9:30am, while fire crews were still cleaning up the site.
“When we arrived there was a lot of smoke, a lot of fire,” he said.
“Initially we took a defensive attack, fighting the fire from outside.
“When it was safe we sent crews inside to make sure no one was in any of the units. Fortunately there wasn’t.”
The building, at the corner of George Street and Broadway Street (Wellington Road 26), was recently purchased by a new owner and the upper two apartments had not yet been rented.
But the main floor tenant is the post office, Karn said, and officials were quickly on scene to ensure all letters and packages in the building were retrieved and delivered to the Fergus post office for further processing.
“Their main concern was they had a number of registered letters in the building,” Karn said.
“These could be passports and other important documents. They wanted to make sure we could retrieve these, which we did.”
Although a damage estimate has not yet be calculated, Karn said the damage is extensive, so the Fire Marshal has been called to investigate.
“Our investigator is holding the scene until he arrives,” Karn added.
He said Hillsburgh and Grand Valley firefighters brought in tankers to help supply water and EMS and OPP were also on the scene.
Wellington Road 26 was closed through the night but was reopened before 9am, he added.
“This fire might have gotten a better hold because no one was in it,” Karn said.
“It might have been burning for some time before anyone noticed.”
The post office serves 820 customers in the community, according to an email from the office of Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong.
“Canada Post has recovered as much mail and parcels as possible, and are determining what items they will still be able to deliver,” states the email.
“Unfortunately, many items were destroyed.”
Chong’s office says Canada Post is making arrangements for community mailboxes “to be deployed to service customers in the area, however it may take several days.”
In an email, Canada Post spokesperson Valerie Chartrand said Canada Post’s operations team is adjusting operations and working on contingency plans given the fire.
“While we are still assessing the damages, we have been able to recover some mail items, she stated.
“As a result, some customers will receive their recovered mail with a letter of explanation in the coming days.
“Customers will also receive a letter explaining where they will be able to … pick up their mail on a temporary basis.”
Chartrand said until the agency finds a better solution, customers can temporarily access postal services at the following locations:
- Fergus Main post office, 299 St. Andrews St. W. in Fergus;
- Tower Street post office, 710 Tower St. S. in Fergus; and
- Elora post office, 150 Geddes Street in Elora.
“We take these matters and the security of the mail very seriously,” Chartrand stated.
“This unfortunate situation is out of our control and we thank our customers for their understanding.”
Chartrand said customers who are missing a mail item or parcel are asked to contact the sender and begin their claim for a refund or have the parcel sent to them again.
Customers can also contact Canada Post’s customer service team online at canadapost.ca/support or by telephone at 1-866-607-6301 (TTY: 1-800-267-2797) for further information.