MOUNT FOREST – Wellington County OPP and Wellington North Fire Service are working together to investigate the cause behind two June 4 fires in Wellington North.
Both are considered suspicious, according to Wellington OPP spokesperson Joshua Cunningham.
Volunteer firefighters were roused from their sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning to battle a structure and a car and shed fire in separate incidents.
Firefighters arrived at Wellington Produce Packaging on Sligo Road in Mount Forest to find a storage building ablaze after a 911 call came in at around 2:48am on Sunday morning.
According to a press release from deputy Wellington North and Minto fire chief Callise Loos, the building contained cardboard and “other items.”
Loos did not specify what the other items were.
“There were no occupants in the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries to anyone involved,” Loos wrote.
Firefighters were still on scene mid-Sunday morning extinguishing hot spots.
A preliminary damage estimate is pegged beyond $1 million.
Adam Hincks of Wellington Produce Packaging declined on June 7 to speak with the Advertiser about the incident, but provided a statement thanking the community for its support.
“Your care and concern have been greatly appreciated,” the statement read.
The statement also acknowledged the “incredible work” of firefighters who controlled the fire and prevented it from spreading to neighbouring houses, as well as other buildings and equipment on the business’s property.
“The [Wellington Produce Packaging] team and the Hincks family are grateful for you and your support,” the statement concluded.
Half-an-hour later, around 3:18am, another call came in for a car and shed fire at a residence in the area of Cork Street.
“Firefighters were able to knock the fire down before it got into the house extensively,” Loos stated.
She added everyone was evacuated from the house and no injuries were reported. The cause of that fire is also considered to be suspicious, according to police.
A damage estimate is set at $50,000.
According to Cunningham, officers at the scenes believe the fires are suspicious.
Police have started to gather information which could support further investigation, and are consulting with Wellington North Fire Service.
Loos confirmed fire staff are working with police to “determine origin, cause and circumstance about [the] fires.”
Cunningham said Mount Forest residents could expect police to knock on doors as officers canvased the neighbourgood for information.
The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) was notified of the fires, but spokesperson Sean Driscoll told the Advertiser on June 5 that “assistance was not required, and the OFM will not be conducting a fire investigation.”
According Loos, about 60 firefighters were involved in fighting the fires – from both Wellington North stations, as well as neighbouring services in Minto, Mapleton, West Grey, Southgate and Shelburne.
Police continue to seek information which could assist in their investigation.
Investigators are interested in speaking to anyone who may have surveillance or dash cam footage that could help identify the source of the fires.
The OPP can be contacted at 1-888-310-1122.
Anyone wanting to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or submit a tip on-line at www.csgw.tips.