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Abandoned building in Hespeler deemed 'disaster' prior to blaze

Last Updated Nov 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm EDT

570 NEWS - Bryan Levesque

The cause of this week’s fire in Hespeler is still under investigation, but questions are now being raised on whether anything could’ve been done to prevent the massive blaze.

The fire broke out an abandoned industrial building at 95 Sheffield Street on Monday, and firefighters had to work well through the night to extinguish the flames.

Donna Reid is Ward 1 Councillor for the City of Cambridge and appeared on 570’s Mike Farwell Show on Wednesday.

She says they’d been keeping a close eye on the property since a series of small fires broke out a few years ago.

“In 2013, we cleaned it up significantly, because we knew it was a disaster at that point in time. So there was a demolition of part of the structure, and the remaining part was sealed up to avoid vandalism and people entering the building.”

Reid adds that although the City doesn’t own the property, they put $175,000 towards the clean-up after those concerns were raised.

“With cleaning it up between 2013 and 2016, we did what we could do, and the fire crews were out checking the site on a weekly basis over the past few years, so I think we all did what we could do to try and stave off any disaster.”

Reid says the City had been working hard to try and find someone to develop there, but there is now some new hope for the site.

“Someone has been attempting to buy the building, but there is a lengthy process ahead as they try and work with the Crowe family to purchase it from them. It’s a little bit complicated, and I understand the process hasn’t been completed, but there is someone that does want to buy it.”

Reid adds that she was quite concerned when the fire broke out on Monday.

“It’s my neighbourhood, I live there. I was concerned for me, my neighbours, and people far away. The wind luckily took most of the smoke over the Mill Pond, instead of residential areas, so that was helpful. We certainly were advising people though to stay inside and not get into the smoke area.”

Reid says the only materials inside of the building at the time were plastics, rubber, and cardboard.

“We’ve established that now, that those were the only materials in there that were on fire.”

The Ministry of Environment was called in to test air and water quality, and there’s still no cause or damage estimate available for the blaze.