Laurentian Valley Twp. – A former Laurentian Valley (LV) business that ceased operation about 10 months ago was destroyed in yet another fire of unknown origin on Sunday morning.

The Sleepy Haven Motel at 1207 Pembroke Street East was a raging inferno when LV firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 5:22 a.m.

“It came in as a fully-involved structure fire,” Chief Tim Sutcliffe told the Leader Monday. “It was fully engulfed when we arrived on scene.”

Although the motel was not operational, there was one occupant in the building who had safely evacuated by the time the department arrived.

“But once again, it’s a building with no hydro,” he said, referring to the other recent fires in vacant buildings around the City of Pembroke. “The motel has probably been closed for 10 months.”

He said the point of origin seems to be in a utility room at the rear of the motel.

“What happened was it was a double ceiling because it had been renovated at one time,” he explained.  “It burned there first and once the flames got in the ceiling, it went right through the whole place.

“That’s why we had to get someone in to tear it down,” he added. “We couldn’t enter to attack it that way, so we had to attack it from the top by tearing everything down.”

An excavator was used to tear down the structure as fire spread through the old motel, which closed 10 months ago.

McCrae Excavating brought in a high-hoe to dismantle the building and give firefighters better access to the flames.

Chief Sutcliffe said one business to the west of the motel, Assante Financial Services, was threatened but there was a large fence between the two properties that assisted firefighters in their efforts to keep it from spreading.

“When we first got there, that was one of our main things to do, to protect that building because we knew when we arrived the motel was gone,” he said. “There was nothing to save there.”

Mark Wheaton, owner Assante, credited firefighters for doing a great job preventing the fire from spreading to his business. 

The chief said weather conditions were good and the wind was taking the smoke straight up or towards the Ottawa River. 

Chief Sutcliffe said the cause is unknown. He notified the Ontario Fire Marshal’s (OFM) Office and the Ontario Provincial Police. The OFM won’t be investigating the blaze, but he said the OPP were looking into the fire.

“Every one (fire) in the last four or five months has been like this,” he remarked. “I’ve contacted the OPP and the OFM so it’s on record.”

Chief Sutcliffe said the building was insured.

Seventeen firefighters battled the blaze for over seven hours, with a full complement of equipment. Water was accessed from the hydrant at the Home Depot. A section of road in front of the building was closed to traffic.

The road in front of the former Sleepy Haven Motel was closed to traffic necessitating a lengthy detour.

Second Call

It was the second fire call for the department on the weekend. Firefighters responded to a garbage bin on fire early Saturday morning on the B-Line.

“A guy had a box at the road where he puts his garbage out and it’s been sitting there for a while,” Chief Sutcliffe explained. “Somebody lit that on fire.”

He said the fire spread into the nearby bush and a passing motorist reported it before it spread to neighbouring structures.

“It’s another fire that doesn’t make any sense,” he said.