Cooking identified as possible cause of $1M fire in Aylmer, Ont.

Early on in the fire at 50 Talbot St. E in Aylmer, Ont., March 20, 2023. Courtesy: Aylmer Police Department via Facebook

The official cause of a large fire at a building in downtown Aylmer, Ont., Monday night remains under investigation, with fire officials estimating the blaze caused roughly $1 million in damage, but luckily no injuries.

Fire crews responded to the scene at 50 Talbot St. E., around 8:20 p.m. and arrived to find the building fully involved with heavy smoke and flames, said the town’s fire chief, who added that departments from Central Elgin, Malahide and St. Thomas assisted at the scene.

“We did have a roof structure collapse, which was the steel roof that we’re working with right now. We had to bring in heavy equipment this morning to remove that steel so we could access the hot spots,” said Todd McKone, who is also Aylmer’s emergency services director.

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Social media posts from Aylmer police show crews remained at the scene into the early morning hours trying to extinguish the blaze.

McKone says the fire is not believed to be suspicious, and investigators are concentrating their efforts on cooking that had been taking place in the apartment at the time. The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal had been contacted, but will not be attending the scene, he said.

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“No injuries at all, I’m happy to report that, from residents or the crews that we had,” he said. “We had 50 firefighters on scene at the peak, so that’s a lot to keep track of.”

The blaze displaced at least 10 residents. Officials with the Town of Aylmer said in a statement that they were working with support agencies for those impacted by the fire.

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“Traffic is being re-routed around the Town of Aylmer until a structural assessment of the buildings is completed,” the statement read. Traffic on John Street resumed Tuesday morning, but Talbot Street remained closed between John and King streets.

In a statement, Aylmer Mayor Jack Couckyt said the incident brought back memories of the fire that ravaged Aylmer on Feb. 26, 1965, which began after a propane truck exploded near John and Talbot streets, resulting in some 33 buildings being destroyed, according to Aylmer-Malahide Museum and Archives. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously hurt.

“I commend our fire and police departments for their competence, resilience and quick response,” Couckyt said.

— with files from Global News’ Andrew Graham

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