Fire destroys former Depanneur Jo’s in Hawkesbury

Par Raymond Berthiaume
Fire destroys former Depanneur Jo’s in Hawkesbury
fire depanneur jo's

Hawkesbury Fire Department crews received a 911 call just after 4 p.m. about a commercial building fire on Main Street. Five trucks and crews from the local fire station arrived on the scene and began work to contain the fire to the commercial building. Part of the section of Main Street between the Hamilton Street and Hampden Street intersections was blocked off to traffic while firefighters dealt with the situation.

« It was a downtown fire situation, » said Hawkesbury Fire Chief Normand Beauchamps, during a later interview. « Lots of crowds, and we had to deal with traffic. But everyone cooperated. »

The building on fire used to be Depanneur Jo’s until the little groceteria closed last year. It later reopened as a combination e-bike shop and snack bar. There is a small second-floor apartment on top of the building and also a small multi-unit apartment building attached on the side of the building.

Firefighters wearing self-contained breathing apparatus did a suite-by-suite search of the upstairs of the building and the next-door apartment complex for anyone who might be inside. All occupants present were evacuated and there are no reports of anyone injured during the incident.

Support firefighter crews and units arrived from Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, the Village of Grenville, Brownsburg-Chatham and Lachute to help their Hawkesbury counterparts as part of mutual aid agreements. The East Hawkesbury Township fire department took on the task of dealing with any calls for those communities while their crews were in Hawkesbury.

While some firefighters continued to hose down the interior of the building, others went up onto the roof and used axes, prybars and a chainsaw to break open a hole in the roof to both vent the smoke from inside and allow access with a fire hose to deal with any flames or smouldering woodwork.

The various support fire crews left the scene at about 10 p.m. as the situation was deemed under control. Hawkesbury firefighters remained on site until 11 p.m. before heading back to the station. A skeleton crew of firefighters remained overnight on fire watch at the scene in case any remaining hot spots reignited into fullblown fires.

The cause of the fire and its exact point of origin are both unknown at present. Fire officials returned to the scene Wednesday to examine the building remains to try to determine the origin point and cause of the fire.

Chief Beauchamps noted the damage estimate for the fire is $1.2 million. He also noted that there were a number of e-bikes inside the building when it burned.

E-bikes run on lithium batteries. While they did not pose a hazardous material situation during the fire, investigators are trying to determine whether or not the presence of lithium batteries may have been a factor in the factor.

Updates will be provided when more information is known.

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