Casselman fire destroys business, leaves 5 families homeless

A fire at a mixed-use building in Casselman, Ont., has destroyed a business and left five families homeless.

RayJans Windows and Doors had opened its Cassleman location in May

A fire broke out in a residential and commercial building on Principale Street in Casselman, Ont., on Wednesday afternoon. (Facebook)

A fire at a mixed-use building in Casselman, Ont., has destroyed a business and left five families homeless.

Freezing rain, snow and high winds caused a hydro wire to break on Principale Street at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Casselman fire Chief Alain Ménard.

The hanging live wire repeatedly struck a two-storey residential and commercial building at 727 Principale St., then came to rest on the building's roof.

RayJans Windows and Doors, based in Cornwall, Ont., opened its Casselman location on the main floor of the building in May 2016. The building also houses five residential units, all of which were occupied by families, according to landlord Mazen Kassis, who is also president of Milano Pizza.

The Casselman location had opened in May 2016. (RayJans Windows and Doors/Facebook)

'Seeing sparks'

The wire "was bouncing off the building ... and each time it touched it would charge up the building. And the tenants in the back of the building were seeing sparks coming out of all the plugs," Kassis said in a phone interview Thursday morning.

Everyone inside the building managed to get out safely and arranged to stay with friends and relatives elsewhere for the night, Kassis said.

Firefighters were called but couldn't fight the flames with water until Hydro Ottawa crews arrived about an hour later to shut off power.

Hydro workers were busy due to a winter storm that downed trees and hydro lines throughout the region and left thousands of people without power.

Building demolished

By the time the power was shut off the fire was well established and had spread within the building's walls, Ménard said. The entire structure later had to be demolished in order to protect neighbouring buildings.

"I have no idea where we go from here yet. I'll find out today. I do know that I'm insured, and I'm grateful that no one is hurt ... I'm confident that everything will turn out for the best, as best as can come out of a fire," Kassis said.

"I've always appreciated firemen, but you don't think of it to this extent. And how professional they were ... it was impressive to see."

In a Facebook post, RayJans Windows and Doors said the company is glad no one was hurt.

The value of the building and its contents is estimated at about $650,000, Ménard said. Kassis had owned it for about seven years.

Casselman is about 60 kilometres southeast of Ottawa.