Cause of Race Street fire in Cornwall

Two police cruisers are stationed outside an apartment building on Race Street on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 after a fire late Monday night. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – City fire investigators say the cause of a basement fire at an apartment building on Race Street last week was accidental.

Fire Chief Pierre Voisine told Cornwall Newswatch a tenant was cooking something on the stove in the basement unit at 31 Race Street, at the corner of Bergin Avenue, when it caught fire.

“We determined it to be an accidental cooking fire. The person that was living in that basement apartment was trying to cook something and left it unattended,” Voisine said.

The chief says the “fire was coming out the windows” when they arrived on Monday night last week (April 14) and called a second alarm for more firefighters given the extreme wind. “We were worried it could get out of hand but we quickly got control of it. We did a good job but we were somewhat lucky as well.”

The fire chief says the damage is at least $50,000. Voisine says the fire was significant enough that the basement tenant couldn’t return. People in the other three building units were able to return.

The building fire scene was released by police and firefighters and returned to the owner.

Charges in separate police investigation

The Cornwall Police Service laid charges in a separate investigation related to the fire.

Firefighters discovered a quantity of marijuana plants in the apartment unit – more than the personal amount allowed by law.

A 47-year-old Cornwall man is facing four charges including possessing more than four cannabis plants that are not budding for flowering.

Police did not say how many plants were found.