A fire that destroyed the Elks Hall in Leslieville December 29 has now been confirmed as arson.
Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services Chief Steve Debienne, says the recent cold weather delayed their ability to get close to the scene for a few days but they were finally able to complete their investigation January 2.
“We have deemed the fire arson,” says Debienne. “At that point we turn it over to the RCMP. So Rocky Mountain House RCMP has taken the lead on the file and are going to finalize the investigation.”
Rocky Mountain House RCMP and the Forensic Identification Unit have teamed up on the still-active investigation and say no arrests have been made at this point, but a person-of-interest has been identified.
Debienne meanwhile confirms the fire did start at the back of the building but is not able to release at this time exactly how it started. In terms of a damage estimate, he admits they are unable to pinpoint that just yet either.
“We’re just finalizing some stuff with insurance and the Elks,” says Debienne. “The damage estimate is already going to be a little bit skewed as there is some memorabilia that will be lost that is invaluable and priceless.”
As for the Elks Club in Leslieville, Exalted Ruler Royce Koester says they are meeting Wednesday night to discuss the situation and hope to release a statement on Thursday regarding their next course of action.
Debienne reminds people that when all of your appliances are working at the max due to frigid temperatures, it’s a good time to check your smoke detectors to ensure they’re operational.
“It’s also not a bad idea to look at a monitored alarm system,” says Debienne. “That if you do have a fire when nobody’s home, that it is detected early-on before it goes to the point that it becomes difficult to handle.”
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