PALMERSTON – The OPP is investigating a fire that destroyed a building on Norman Street here on Monday but both police and Minto Fire officials remain tightlipped about whether or not the blaze could be linked to a gathering at the site two days earlier.
At about 9am on Nov. 22 firefighters from all three Minto stations – Palmerston, Harriston and Clifford – were called to the former creamery near downtown Palmerston. They were aided by crews from Listowel, Drayton and Moorefield.
Minto Fire deputy chief Callise Loos reported firefighters took a “defensive” approach to battle the fire.
Residents of neighbouring homes were temporarily evacuated to the Palmerston arena and later in the day an excavator was brought in to demolish what was left of the building.
Loos stated in a press release there were no occupants in the building at the time of the fire and there were no injuries.
Both police and Minto Fire officials were previously called to the building on Nov. 20 at about 10:40pm in response to a party that was originally classified by police as a “mischief” call.
“It was reported that approximately 40 to 50 teens were on scene, glass could be heard being smashed and a small fire had been lit,” Wellington OPP spokesperson Cheri Rockefeller stated in a Nov. 23 email to the Advertiser.
She added Minto firefighters “tended to the fire” and “police evacuated the building.”
Loos told the Advertiser the original call on Saturday night came in to the fire department as a report of a “structure fire,” but upon arrival Minto firefighters did not see any smoke or flames from outside the building.
“We sent two firefighters into the building to do a search and they found unrecognizable pieces of plastic melted and partially smoking in a corner,” she noted in a Nov. 23 statement to the newspaper.
“The firefighters sprayed water in the corner to dampen everything down as a precaution, they continued to search the rest of the building but found nothing. Firefighters boarded up any entry points to the building and [returned to the hall].”
Police are still investigating both the Saturday night party in the building and the Monday morning fire that destroyed it.
“I cannot confirm if the two incidents are related or if the fire from yesterday was deemed suspicious as of yet,” Loos stated.
She directed those question to the OPP.
Rockefeller did not immediately reply to questions about whether the Monday morning blaze could be considered suspicious.
Anyone who may have information is asked to call Crime Stoppers or the North Wellington OPP Operations Centre.