CORNWALL – A fire at the corner of Montreal Road and Alice Street Thursday night is now a criminal investigation.
The raging inferno started around 6:40 p.m. and consumed three buildings — two apartment buildings and a furniture store.
Thirty-one people have been displaced by the fire.
Speaking with Cornwall Newswatch at the scene just before 3 p.m. this afternoon (Friday), Fire Prevention Officer Morris Lamer said the scene has been turned over to the Cornwall Community Police Service.
“It’s a criminal investigation at point. It wasn’t until now. I have turned it over to the Cornwall police. It’s a criminal investigation from this point on,” Lamer said.
Police later put out a news release around 3:50 p.m. calling the fire “suspicious in nature.”
The Ontario Fire Marshal has been notified “and at this point they are still not here and may not come,” he said.
The Ministry of Environment was also on the scene. Lamer didn’t have any specific details saying that was being handled by the fire prevention officers. He believed it was some sort of “spill off of some sort, runoff let’s say” at the scene.
Several plain clothes police officers were on the scene pointing to various parts of the rubble on the southeast corner of Montreal Road and Alice Street.
Losing Poirier Furniture like losing a family member
“It hurts,” said 61-year-old Mike Burelle. The lifelong Cornwall resident and his family have been customers of Poirier Furniture over the years. They have lived in the eastern section of Cornwall their entire life.
“It’s been a family business. A lot of people that I know, that’s who they deal with. Great service and any problems they arrange things here and there,” Burelle said.
“The way I look at it Poirier Furniture was family. It hurts everybody. I think that was one of the first furniture stores in town,” he said. “They were a family business. They always welcomed you and they would tell you what’s best for you. They knew the customer.”
A section of Montreal Road near the fire is still closed and the Cornwall Community Police Service is asking people to avoid the area.