The cause of a serious blaze Monday morning at a vacant three-storey home on Richmond Street near the Western University gates remains under investigation, fire officials said.
Crews were called to the scene at 1240 Richmond St., north of Raymond Avenue, just before 6 a.m. and were confronted with heavy fire and smoke coming from the third floor of the building, said Platoon Chief Gary Mosburger.
“Crews did note that the building was a vacant building and took defensive operations immediately as a result,” he said, adding that firefighters, numbering some 25 people at one point, managed to get the flames largely extinguished in about an hour and a half.
Since then, Mosburger says crews have been trying to get to various hot spots within the building, a process that has proved difficult.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge as a result of weakened floors inside the building and the potential of some collapse areas within the structure. There is a lot of water within the floors, so again, it becomes structurally unstable,” he said.
Given the dangers, fire officials have yet to enter the home itself, and Mosburger says an excavator is being brought to the scene to pick apart what they believe to be a smouldering fire within the building.
“At this point, I don’t have any determination of origin cause and circumstance of the fire, and we do not currently have any type of damage estimation,” he said.
Mosburger said given the early stages of the investigation, it was too soon to determine if the fire may or may not be suspicious.
“We did contact the Ontario fire marshal’s office by way of our fire prevention investigator, and at this point, they have no interest in attending,” Mosburger said.
Arson investigators with London police also attended but have since left, he added.
The home is among at least six properties on the eastern side of Richmond Street, north of Raymond, that have sat vacant for several years as a result of a stalled plan involving a GTA-based developer to build a high-rise on the site.