No cause yet for Clarke Street fire: Port Moody fire chief

Port Moody Fire Rescue says it will likely never definitively determine the cause of the July 28 fire that destroyed two buildings on Clarke Street — one of them a protected heritage structure that once housed the old Roe & Abernathy grocery store.

Ron Coulson, the department’s chief, said the nature of the destruction makes it difficult for fire investigators to pinpoint an exact cause but they have enough information to ascertain the blaze started accidentally.

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“It’s not suspicious in any way,” Coulson said, adding the ongoing investigation will also include a review of video shot by bystanders at the scene as well as discussions with police. Coulson said the investigation should be wrapped up by the end of the month.

Nobody was hurt in the fire, that erupted around the dinner hour.

Aside from the vacant grocery store, the fire also destroyed the Gallery Bistro, which was closed at the time for a private birthday party for its owner, Helen Daniels. Several tenants in apartments above the stores were also displaced and three neighbouring businesses suffered smoke and water damage. One of them, the Silk Gallery — owned by Port Moody Coun. Zoe Royer — reopened Tuesday.

Daniels, who safely escaped the blaze along with her party guests, said, “It’s too early at this point to think about what lies ahead” for her business, which had become a focal point for the city’s arts and music community, displaying visual artworks on its walls and hosting concerts, jazz nights and open-mic events.

Several fundraising efforts have also been organized to support the residents and businesses affected by the fire.

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