Cause of Maritime Ice fire unclear
Future of Moncton business also uncertain
Fire officials have been unable to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed the Maritime Ice Co. Ltd. in downtown Moncton early Sunday morning.
The investigation wrapped up Monday afternoon, but there was too much damage to the landmark building, located on Albert Street, officials said.
It’s unclear what will happen to the company that made bagged ice for grocery and convenience stores.
President Bill McKay, who spent much of Monday with insurance and fire investigators, said he’s not sure what he’s going to do next.
The damage is estimated to be in the millions and the 60-year-old warehouse is a total loss.
All that remains is a charred mess, which was still smoking in places Monday.
Four people worked at Maritime Ice during the winter, 12 during the summer months.
One family was displaced by the blaze just hours after they brought home a new baby.
Jason Lewis and his wife, who live across the street from the warehouse in a two-storey home, were asleep at the time, along with their two children. They woke to sirens.
"It was scary," said Lewis. "I was worried about the baby - the lungs and the breathing. And you could smell the smoke in the house and it wasn't thick in the house, but you could smell it and you could kind of feel it. So it was just a matter of ‘We've got to get out.’
"We left. So it was hectic…We have a toddler as well so toddler ready, newborn ready, dog ready and off we went."
The family is staying with relatives while the home is being cleaned.
Firefighters had focused their efforts on protecting the Lewis' home and other nearby buildings.
By the time crews arrived on the scene shortly after 2:30 a.m., the wooden warehouse was already engulfed, with flames shooting high above the building.
Fire crews tried to go inside, but were forced to pull back because of the intensity of the flames, said Moncton Fire Chief Eric Arsenault.
"It was a very challenging fire," he said. "We were dealing with ammonia on the property - it was a product they used for refrigeration.
"So there were some dangerous gases being released on top of the fire itself so that gave us a source of concern."