Bouctouche Farmers Market fire called suspicious by RCMP
Quebec tourist says fire department took 15 minutes to arrive at fire scene
The fire that destroyed the Bouctouche Farmers Market overnight has been called suspicious by Richibucto RCMP.
The fire started at about 2:20 a.m. on Wednesday and police say the blaze was fully involved by the time they got there.
Nearby buildings were also damaged according to RCMP.
Jacques Mallet, who was camping nearby, said the fire woke him up.
"I don't know if it was the smell of the smoke, but I woke up [and] the smoke was coming in the trailer," he said.
"I looked outside, I saw what looked like a small fire. I thought it was the neighbour, who had a small campfire on."
He said he thought about trying to put out the fire himself, but he realized that would be impossible.
Mallet said he called 911 to alert emergency officials about the fire, but he said that caused its own round of delays.
"I called 911 and it took them a while to answer and they asked me where was the fire. So I said, 'I don't know, I'm in Bouctouche, I'm next to the church and it's at the farmers' market," he said.
"But they wanted the address. I said, 'I don't know the address. It's in Bouctouche, you'll see it. Call the fire department, they'll see it right away and when the firefighters got here they started putting it out."
Mallet said it took about 15 minutes for the fire department to get to the farmers' market.
The Quebec tourist said he and his neighbour had to move their campers to a safer location because of the fire.
'People are frustrated'
Bouctouche Mayor Aldéo Saulnier said the farmers' market fire is causing a lot of frustration in the southeastern town.
"Some people are frustrated because, you know, in the past we've had serious problems with fire around the Bouctouche area," he said.
"We are wondering, we had a fire on Monday night, it was a stolen vehicle that caught fire. Today, it's the farmers market. So we don't know."
In 2009, the RCMP laid 63 charges against nine people after a series of fires in the community.
Many buildings were destroyed, including the local gun club and a restaurant and the theatre at Le Pays de la Sagouine, an iconic attraction.
The Bouctouche mayor said the farmers market was a popular meeting place in the community and it's too early to know whether an alternative location for the market will be found for this weekend.