Speculation that three commercial structure fires in one week in Happy Valley-Goose Bay could be the work of a serial arsonist is unfounded, says the town’s fire chief.
“I can say for a certainty, there is no connection between these fires,” Brad Butler told The Labradorian last week.
The latest fire occurred Sept. 23 at approximately 9 p.m. at the Fillatre Funeral Home on Aspen Drive. Butler said firefighters quickly contained the blaze, which started in an apartment attached to the rear of the funeral home.
The chief said there was a bit of luck involved in the quick response related to the windstorm that whipped through Newfoundland and Labrador over the weekend.
“We were just returning from another call that we had — we had a tree across a power line, I’d say about 10 minutes prior to this call,” he said. “(The volunteer firefighters) all basically hadn’t made it home yet, so they just turned around and went directly to the funeral home.”
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro workers were also out because of the storm and happened to be driving by the funeral home and cut the power for firefighters, Butler explained.
Funeral director and town councillor Shawn Crann was the lone occupant of the building at the time and escaped unharmed, although he was sent to hospital as a precaution, Butler noted.
While the apartment sustained major fire, smoke and water damage, there was only smoke damage to the funeral home portion of the structure.
An RCMP investigation quickly revealed the cause of the fire was accidental, but no details were given on what kind of accident it was.
Two previous fires the weekend before left the front part of Northmart with major damage and complete loss of inventory and destroyed the Cozy Corner restaurant altogether. Police determined the cause of the Northmart fire was electrical. The Cozy Corner blaze is still under investigation.
Butler said that although it is extremely unusual to have three such fires in a short span, the timing is strictly coincidental.
“I know fire can happen anytime, anywhere, but for a small community of 7,500 people, it is odd that we had three major structure fires in one week,” he said.
Fillatre’s is still open for business.