Portland firehall blaze not suspicious

The fire that destroyed the Portland fire station is not considered suspicious, Rideau Lakes Fire Chief Scott Granahan told township council members Tuesday.

The fire broke out at approximately 4 p.m. on Dec. 21 and destroyed the facility and all its contents, including fire vehicles.

Despite the loss of the firehall and equipment, providing continuity of fire service is a priority for the local fire department, which has two bays in the Crosby township garage that are housing fire trucks and other equipment that was supplied by both Gananoque and Northumberland County.

Within the village of Portland, behind the chief’s house, is a pickup truck that is equipped for motor vehicle collisions and alarm responses, said Granahan.

Granahan said that calls to the Portland fire station are tiered to the Elgin station.

Mutual Aid is continuing from neighboring municipalities, including Smiths Falls, Elizabethtown-Kitley, Leeds and the Thousand Islands and Athens.

Currently the Rideau Lakes fire department has use of the Gananoque fire truck through until about the end of this week, but it is working on borrowing a pumper from another source.

A probable cause of the Portland fire cannot be provided at this time, said the chief.

The township is fully insured for the loss of the local fire station and the equipment, as well as costs associated with continuation of service while a new facility is constructed. Any damage to neighboring properties will be recovered from the township’s insurer through the homeowners’ policies.

Rideau Lakes chief administrative officer, Mike Dwyer said his early estimate of the damages is around $2 million in replacement costs for the building and equipment.

Mayor Arie Hoogenboom reiterated his commitment to rebuilding the lost station, though likely not on the current site due to its inadequate land area for modern firefighting operation.

As a precautionary measure, and in consultation with the Ministry of the Environment, local wells are being tested for any impacts to drinking water, township officials said.

The Township is encouraging any residents struggling with the impacts of the fire on their well-being to contact Ontario 211, which will help connect them with appropriate social and community services.

(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

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