New Brunswick

Moncton warehouse fire under investigation

Moncton firefighters continue to investigate the cause of a fire Thursday evening that destroyed a Moncton warehouse on Barker Street where there was a suspicious fire three weeks ago.

Owners says company struggled with break-ins and thefts at building recently

Moncton Fire Department was still on the scene Friday morning of a fire at a warehouse on Barker Street. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Moncton firefighters continue to investigate the cause of a fire Thursday evening that destroyed a Moncton warehouse on Barker Street where there was a suspicious fire three weeks ago.

Codiac Regional RCMP Staff Sgt. Patricia Levesque said the fire was reported through an anonymous 911 call just before 8 p.m.

Platoon chief Dennis Dollemont said they found western section of the building engulfed in flames. 

Over several hours, the fire burned along the length of the building under a metal roof.

The fire sent billowing smoke over downtown.

Smoke continued to rise from the building's rubble on Friday morning. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Atlantic Commercial Properties Inc. owns the property. Gordon Lahanky, president and CEO of the Moncton-based company, said they've struggled with break-ins and thefts at the building.

"It's been an ongoing dilemma," Lahanky said in an interview Friday. "We've had many challenges in recent years. This has escalated."

In recent months, the building's power meter was removed, cutting the power supply and alarm system.

On Oct. 2, Lahanky said two witnesses saw smoke coming from the building and called 911. He said they also saw four people with shopping carts fleeing across nearby soccer fields.

Moncton Fire Department Deputy Chief Rob Brine said a fire at the building Oct. 2 was deemed suspicious. Levesque said police also responded to the fire.

Brine said it's too early to determine if there may be a connection between the two fires.  Brine said he was aware the property had issues with homeless people going inside. 

Moncton Fire Department Deputy Chief Rob Brine says a fire at the building earlier this month was deemed suspicious. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Lahanky said his father had purchased the property in the 1960s and it was one of the first buildings the company owned.

"This one is an emotional one, because, again, this is where our family started its business," Lahanky said.

The building is in what Lahanky called the Victory Industrial Park, an area between Collishaw Street and the CN Sportsplex, where many buildings date to around the time of the Second World War. 

It had been used by Allsco to manufacture windows, but in recent years had been used for storage of various building products, Lahanky said.

The fire spread from the western end of the building to the eastern end over several hours Thursday. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Lahanky thanked the Moncton fire department for their work. 

About 15 firefighters fought the fire Thursday from outside the building. 

"One of the big issues with the metal roofs and the brick sides is that it holds all of the heat inside," Brine said.

"Because we can't go inside the building to fight the fire, we have to kind of wait until it exposes itself. So it's like fighting a fire on the outside of a big wood stove. The heat was quite intense. Luckily, we didn't put any of our guys inside."

No other nearby buildings were damaged and no injuries were reported.

Dollemont said crews had the fire under control by midnight.

An excavator arrived around 10 a.m. to help put out hotspots Friday as crews continued to spray the site with water.

A person walks by what's left of the burning building on Barker Street on Thursday evening. (Shane Magee/CBC)

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