Firefighters worked into the night battling an intense fire that broke out in the O’Connor Building in Huntingdon late Tuesday afternoon.
Local emergency services were called to the historic building just before 5 p.m. when flames and smoke were spotted at the rear of the building.
Area fire departments as well as trucks from across the border responded quickly to the fire, attempting to douse the flames from all angles. Residents gathered to watch as smoke poured from the building while firefighters cordoned off the town’s main intersection.
Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers also responded to the fire and were seen interviewing witnesses on site.
Abandoned since 2015, the O’Connor Building had been left to fall into disrepair. The electricity to the building was cut several years ago, says Huntingdon mayor André Brunette, who insists there was very little the town could have done to prevent such an outcome. “It is a private property,” he says, suggesting the town has done all it could to maintain the building.
The town had declared the building to be a threat to public safety last July following the discovery of a hole in the roof that resulted in substantial damage.
“There will certainly be an investigation into this fire,” says Brunette, noting he spoke with an SQ officer who confirmed an inquiry would take place.
The fire was under control but continued to smoulder as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, with several fire departments still on scene.