During Monday evening’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls, Fire Chief Rick Chesebrough shared a report on the overnight fire at the old water treatment plant on Old Mill Road. The fire began overnight and was contained and extinguished with help from neighbouring fire services. The cause of the fire is still unknown and under investigation.
Chief Chesebrough described the events in detail. At 2:00a.m., early on Monday morning, the fire department received a report of a structure fire in the former water treatment facility. When crews arrived, all three floors of the building were fully involved, and the roof had come down.
They immediately notified surrounding fire departments.
“Montague responded with a pumper and a rescue and manpower; Perth responded with an aerial device, due to the size of the building and the condition it was in. Drummond / North Elmsley did standby at our station because we were committed to this call. Smiths Falls responded with its elevated device, its pumper and its rescue and a full complement of firefighters. At approximately 3:30 / 4:00a.m., they had the fire contained to the main structure of the building.”
The fire department also notified the office of the Fire Marshal and Ontario Hydro, who disconnected the power running down the street “that could possibly pose a threat to firefighting operations.” Two ambulances stood by on site “in case there were any injuries.”
“The fire was totally extinguished by 8:00 this morning; we had approximately 35 firefighters that attended the call,” Chesebrough noted.
He also made it clear that the cause of the fire is currently under investigation, but as the structural integrity of the building is not known, access is limited. “We are awaiting the arrival of the insurance company with a structural engineer to make that determination. Once that has been made, then the investigation will be initiated to determine cause and origin.”
Chesebrough pointed out some silver linings: “at the time of the fire and subsequent to the fire there was no threat to public safety. Surrounding properties were not affected. The wind was in our favour. It was blowing towards the canal. The quick response and the quick application of water on the building reduced the amount of contaminants in the building that were coming out that was contained to the street side and the firefighters did an exceptional job.”
Additionally, Chesebrough assured the committee “there was no impact to the municipal water system; [the fire] was downstream. We took additional steps after meeting with CAO Morris and senior staff earlier this morning to ensure that the contaminants were not going into the waterway. We checked at Lower Reach park, we checked behind Le Boat and there were no contaminants that were seen. The Ministry of Environment was notified.”
There were no reports of any injuries due to the fire.
The Chief thanked all who responded and stood by. “It was just an outstanding job that was done by all.”
The section of Old Mill Road adjacent to the former water treatment plan will remain closed until the investigation has been completed.