Early-morning fire at Palace Road gift shop treated as suspicious

Steam escapes from the upper level of the Palace Village plaza Tuesday morning as firefighters respond to an early-morning blaze. (Adam Bramburger/staff)

Office of the Fire Marshal, OPP working with fire department to investigate cause of blaze

Adam Bramburger

Beaver Staff

An early-morning blaze Tuesday at the Palace Village Plaza shopping centre on Palace Road near Hwy 401 raised suspicions among responders.

According to a news release circulated by the Napanee OPP that afternoon, the police force was working with the Greater Napanee fire department and the Office of the Fire Marshal “to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

The fire started in a unit on the upper level of the complex and police and firefighters were alerted to the fire around 5:39 a.m.

Plumes of smoke were visible from a distance against the black sky early that morning as the Napanee station received assistance from several neighbouring stations. Trucks remained on scene into the afternoon hours to control the heat, while the OPP restricted access to the ramp to the upper shops.

The fire is believed to have been confined to the Gallery gift shop, according to Facebook reports from the businesses Lily’s Bridal Boutique and Diamond Fitness Mixed Martial Arts, which are both located in the complex. A post on the Lily’s feed said “no fire has entered” its upper level shop. A subsequent post, around 3:30 p.m. indicated staff had yet to be allowed access into their store as the investigation was ongoing.

Diamond Fitness owner Meighen Hodgen was able to tour her upper-level unit and she posted an update for her Facebook followers.

“Thankfully the fire didn’t hit the units and from what I have seen there is minimal water,” she said. “However all units are smoky.”

Hodgen later told the Beaver she was going to the gym to see if she could clear the smoke from the air. She cancelled her classes Tuesday. She was hoping to resume regular programming Wednesday.

“My deepest sympathy to both businesses who suffered much worse damage than myself,” she wrote on Facebook. “Never something a business owner wants to wake up to on Jan. 2.”

The fire also did not appear to impact the Wild Wing restaurant located on the lower level. Police indicated the gift shop “sustained major damage” as a result of the fire. No cost estimate was provided and no injuries were reported. No information was released about the cause of the fire.

Anyone with information about the fire has been asked to contact the Napanee OPP detachment at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if they wish to remain anonymous. Those providing tips to Crime Stoppers may be eligible for a cash reward.

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