Skip to content

Cause not yet determined in fire at downtown landmark (5 photos)

Dan Boulanger is being proclaimed a hero for pulling his friend from the burning Barnes Block

Materials removed today from a fire-ravaged downtown apartment will be examined at the Centre of Forensic Sciences before investigators determine what caused the early-morning blaze.

"It's still under investigation so there's not a whole lot things I can tell you," said fire investigator James Allen from the Office of the Fire Marshal.

"Right now, we're looking at a downstairs main floor apartment as being the area of fire origin," Allen told SooToday.

Allen said the fire appeared to have started near the north wall on the southeast main floor apartment of the historic Barnes Block at 3-7 Queen Street East at Gore.

The 109-year-old building is commonly referred to as downtown's 'mortar and pestle' building for the trade ornament placed on its roof by pharmacist T.T. Barnes

Allen declined to say whether any possible causes had been ruled out, indicating he wished to review the forensic evidence first.

"Once that's done, I will consider my investigation," he said.

Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services received multiple 911 calls around 2:30 a.m. alerting them to the blaze, platoon chief Stan Martynuck said.

Two individuals were taken to hospital.

Jason Naccarato, whose family owns the Barnes Block, said that one of those hospitalized was a middle-aged man who had just moved into the building about a week ago.

The man had been homeless recently and had no furnishings when he moved in.

Naccarato said friends and acquaintances had just provided him with furniture which was lost in this morning's fire.

One of those friends, Dan Boulanger of Albert Street West, saved the man's life by pulling him from the burning building, Naccarato said.

Acquaintances of Boulanger said he remains in hospital tonight.

Two apartments were burnt in the fire and nine had smoke damage.

Platoon chief Richard Pihlaja told SooToday that other tenants in the building will be displaced for at least two or three days.

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
Read more