investigation; Kapuskasing Inn fire site poses problems
for fire, police crews
May 24, 2007 @ 10:00
An investigation into the cause of a fire at a Northern
Ontario landmark continued Wednesday.
The fire, which started early Tuesday morning, gutted
the top floor of the Kapuskasing Inn, but the cause
of the blaze had not yet been determined by Fire Marshall
Office fire investigator John Montgomery, who examined
the scene with OPP forensics identification Const.
Tom Gant all day Wednesday.
"We're limited as to what we can do at the scene,"
Montgomery said. "Accessing the hotel has been
Because the hotel has been closed for about five
years, Montgomery explained that health and safety
problems have made the almost 80-year-old inn too
much of a hazardous environment to enter.
"There's a lot of mould throughout the entire
building according to the local health unit,"
"We don't know the extent of it, but it's considered
very risky to go inside."
Montgomery and the rest of the investigating team
could only examine the ruins of the Kapuskasing Inn
using a small mobile crane that could raise them up
beside the top floor.
"It feels so empty, but I hope they fix it. It's
Gant said that no one in authority felt comfortable
permitting anyone to examine the interior of the hotel
for fear of floors or other structural elements collapsing.
"It's a shame the hotel burnt like this,"
"There's so much history behind this building."
Montgomery could not disclose much, because the investigation
is ongoing, but he believes the fire was started on
the third, or top, floor and was put out before it
spread much further.
The fire investigator said his work at the scene
would likely conclude by the end of the day, then
he would file his report and the OPP would continue
to work with his findings.
Lead investigator OPP Det. Sgt. Todd Selvage added
that the OPP is interviewing witnesses to the fire
and following leads, but no suspects have been identified
as of yet.
"This investigation is still so fresh,"
"It's ongoing and a lot of what we conclude
will hinge on what the fire investigation tells us."
Kapuskasing chief administrative officer Yvan Brousseau
explained that the owner of the inn, Donato Di Salle,
a private investor based in Toronto, will have 30
days to pull down the remains of the building once
the investigation concludes.
"He wanted to revive the inn and bring it back
to its original shape, but now that plan is gone,
finished," Brousseau said.
"There's no way to renovate it now."
Brousseau said Di Salle plans to salvage some of
the materials that make up the building.
According to the Northern Times newspaper, Di Salle
wanted to turn the closed hotel into a casino, but
he was feeling victimized because the inn had suffered
four smaller fires in the last year.
Brousseau told The Daily Press Kapuskasing is grateful
to the towns of Val Rita-Harty, Moonbeam and Fauquier-Strickland
for sending firefighters and pump trucks to help put
out the fire, which he estimates took about 30 hours.
Spruce Falls Inc., the original owners of the local
mill, built the hotel at the corner of Riverside Drive
and Drury Street, the town civic centre next door,
and 10 Drury Place, a seniors' home that used to be
the town hospital, as facilities to attract investors
to the town in 1928.
Pauline Dumas, 83, moved to Kapuskasing when she
was 18, then got a job as a server in the hotel's
"It was the only job I could get because I couldn't
speak English," Dumais said.
"I can't imagine them keeping the hotel up now.
It feels so empty, but I hope they fix it.
"It's very sad."