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Electrical fire leaves sadness, rubble in heart of Manotick

A fire that gutted four businesses on Manotick Main Street Sunday started as an electrical fire in the building's roof, Ontario's fire marshal confirmed Monday.

Flames started with electrical fire in building's attic, investigators confirm

A sign for V's Cupcakes lies at the bottom of a pile of debris on Monday, May 22, after a fire destroyed the shop and three other businesses. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

A fire that gutted four businesses on Manotick Main Street Sunday started as an electrical fire in the building's roof, the Ontario fire marshal's office confirmed Monday.

Shooting flames and heavy smoke caused approximately $1 million in damage to shops at 5556 Manotick Main St.

V's Cupcakes, the Manotick Butcher, Tops Pizza, and the engineering consulting firm EBA were all destroyed.

The investigation revealed the fire started in the southwest corner of the building's attic, the fire marshal's office confirmed Monday. When the roof collapsed, everything that was burning fell inside V's Cupcakes.

"It's just not sinking in," said the cupcake shop's owner, Veronick Ayling, as an excavator combed through piles of charred debris behind her.

"It feels like a bad dream, like I'm going to wake up and everything will be back to normal."

V's Cupcakes owner Veronick Ayling said she came up with the idea for her pastry shop in 2012 while bedridden with Lyme disease for more than a year. (Veronick Ayling/Submitted)

Loss 'like an open wound'

The shop, which sold frosted treats with names like dreamsicle and lemon bliss, was meant to be Ayling's new beginning.

She contracted Lyme disease in August 2012 and dreamt up the idea while lying bedridden for more than a year.

Her dream was a reality until early Sunday morning, when a phone call from the alarm system sent her racing to the plaza.

The flames had transformed her pink and white pastry parlour into an "inferno ball of fire," she said.

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"It's like an open wound. I know I'll get through this, but like everything it's going to take time."

A longtime pizza joint was also destroyed by the flames.

It's very hard to see this sadness in the heart of Manotick.- Khodor Eldidi, owner of Tops Pizza

"It's very hard to see this sadness in the heart of Manotick," said Khodor Eldidi, who ran Tops Pizza with the help of his kids.

Eldidi has been in business in Manotick for 22 years and said he considers his customers family.

"As soon as I find another location, I'm coming back," Eldidi said.

More than $15,000 worth of meat went to waste in James Watt's butcher store. It was sitting in a freezer that wasn't harmed in the fire, but Watt said he wasn't able to retrieve it.

"This devastates everyone, not just the business owners," Watt said. 

Manotick Butcher co-owner James Watt said he had $15,000 worth of meat sitting in a freezer in his store that wasn't harmed in the fire, but he couldn't retrieve it. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

He opened the Manotick Butcher seven years ago to offer his community ethically raised meat from local farms. The shop was his passion project.

"We're not sure whether the money is going to be there to re-open," Watt said. "We have staff out of work, some who have been with us for seven years."

Rebuild could take 2 years

The building's landlord, Gino Petrocco, told CBC rebuilding the structure could take two years.

The timeline will depend on city approvals, the insurance company and the bank. 

Petrocco confirmed surrounding businesses, including Lasting Impressions Gifts, Cooligan Martial Arts, Evape and Green Spirit are all open for business.

Firefighters watch as an excavator drops a pile of debris to the ground on Monday, May 22, 2017, near the site of a devastating fire on Manotick Main Street. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

with files from Ashley Burke

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