News

Windshield King goes up in flames

By Laura Barton, Dave Johnson, Tribune Staff

 

A fire that caused an estimated $600,000 in damages to Windshield King in Welland is under investigation, but has been deemed not suspicious.

No one was in the building at the time as it was after business hours. Residents in the area of the fire at East Main Street and Cameron Avenue were asked to close their windows, shut off their air conditioners and shelter inside their homes Thursday evening as heavy smoke filled the surrounding streets.

Welland Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Chief Adam Eckhart said some residents just west of the fire on Lyons Avenue were evacuated from their homes and others east of the fire scene were being asked to voluntarily evacuate as the fire burned at the 811 East Main Street business.

Eckhart said the fire service received multiple calls about a fire at the business – a full service auto repair shop offering oil changes, tires, brakes, and auto glass repair and replacement – just before 7 p.m.

“The first arriving crew confirmed it was a working structure fire with flames visible. They had to force entry into the building because it was secure at the time,” said Eckhart from the scene Thursday night.

The fire service activated its call back, which sees off duty firefighters called in to assist in major emergencies, and once those crews were on scene, they started an interior fire fight, the deputy chief said.

“We set up fire operations to protect the crews that went inside the building.”

Firefighters that went inside the two-storey structure, once home to Welland Nissan, reported a maze of equipment and material inside.

When they exited, Eckhart said the fire service went into defensive mode, fighting the fire from the outside on three sides of the structure.

“We requested an aerial truck from Pelham to complement our aerial operations.”

Pelham’s aerial poured water on the roof of the building, which had flames poking through at times, from the east side on Cameron Avenue, while Welland’s aerial was on the East Main Street side.

Four fire hydrants in the surrounding area were being used to supply the aerial trucks and pumpers on scene. The water from the fire run off quickly began to pool on the road, but Eckhart said there were no concerns of contaminants making it into the sewer system. Considering the types of materials and equipment in the auto shop, he said the water was being monitored and they were prepared to contain any spill that might have occurred.

He said he has since also followed up with the Ministry of Environment and said the ministry has no concerns.

Eckhart said the weather changed a couple of time while firefighting operations were underway with a little light rain falling. It was hoped the rain might dampen the smoke, but with the wind shifting directions at least three or four times, that did not happen.

When the wind finally settled, it was blowing east to northeast, prompting onlookers to move or asked to move by Niagara Regional Police. Firefighters themselves had to shift positions at least three times to avoid the heavy smoke. Niagara Emergency Services paramedics were standing by near the fire scene, Eckhart said.

Thirty-four professional and volunteer firefighters fought the blaze. He said the fire had been upgraded to a second alarm.

Friday morning, Eckhart said crews were able to go into shutdown mode around 11:30 p.m. as the fire was brought under control. From that time on, trucks were able to begin leaving and roads were gradually reopened. By approximately 2:30 a.m., Eckhart said they were able to leave the scene.

Four fire cars gathered in the Windshield King parking lot Friday morning as investigations began to get underway. Eckhart said there was no indication at that time of any cause and that it would likely be a while before there was any new information.

He added he called the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, but was uncertain whether they would be attending the scene.

“We’re very fortunate that there were no injuries and honestly that it was detected as early as it was,” he said Friday, although expressed his sympathies for the business owner.

dajohnson@postmedia.com

lbarton@postmedia.com

Twitter: @DaveJTheTrib

@LBartonTribune