Ottawa police arson investigators have charged a 28-year-old Ottawa man with arson endangering life in connection with a fire that ravaged a Wendy’s fast food restaurant in the city’s west end early Tuesday morning.
The two-alarm fire at the Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre sent two people to hospital with minor smoke inhalation, according to Ottawa paramedics. Two others were assessed for smoke inhalation at the scene and released.
First responders were called to the stand-alone Wendy’s at 2545 Carling Ave. shortly after 12:15 a.m. and firefighters continued to put out “hot spots” throughout the morning, Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson Danielle Cardinal said.
Several callers told dispatchers there was “heavy black smoke” coming out of the back of the restaurant, Cardinal said.
Cardinal said the blaze escalated rapidly, prompting firefighters to ask for additional resources within 15 minutes.
“It was too dangerous for our firefighters to operate inside,” she said. “All firefighting occurred from outside the building.”
Firefighters reported the blaze as under control by 3:18 a.m. The building has sustained heavy structural damage, she said, including a partially collapsed roof.
All the Wendy’s employees got out of the restaurant before firefighters arrived, and no other buildings or vehicles were affected by the flames, Cardinal confirmed.
The police service’s arson unit on Tuesday afternoon announced it had charged Steven Hanssen with arson endangering life, arson damage to property and two counts of breaching his court release conditions.
He is scheduled to appear in show cause court on Tuesday, according to a news release from the Ottawa Police Service.
Carling Avenue and the streets surrounding the Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre have reopened, but a portion of the parking lot near the Wendy’s remains blocked off.
Cardinal urged drivers to avoid that area and not to drive over fire hoses.