New Brunswick

Saint John inn fire ruled accidental

A fire that destroyed an historic Saint John inn on Sunday was accidental, but the exact cause is still under investigation, fire officials say.

A fire that destroyed an historic Saint John inn on Sunday was accidental, investigators have concluded.

But the exact cause of the blaze that gutted the Inn on the Cove is still under investigation, said District Fire Chief Gerald Green.

Meanwhile, it's unclear if the shell of the century-old building that was once a city landmark can be salvaged, or will have to be torn down, he said.

The fire started in the basement, said Green.

"The fire raced right up through from the basement, up through the plumbing raceways, and because it's balloon-frame construction - which is the old style of construction - the fire very quickly spread throughout the entire structure," Green said.

"We are looking at some electrical materials that were retrieved from the point of origin, and the provincial electrical inspector is taking a good look at those today, so that's pretty well where we're at now."

About 25 firefighters responded to the call about 2:40 p.m., but the fire was too dangerous to battle from the inside.

No one was inside and no one was injured. Crews remained on the scene for several hours.

The property overlooking the Bay of Fundy has been handed back to its owners, Ross and Willa Mavis.

They have said they hope to rebuild the business they started more than 20 years ago.

The building was originally a private home but was transformed into a popular seaside tourist spot and spa.