The Williamsburg detachment of the South Dundas Fire Department was called out to the Dunbar Recreation Centre at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, October 8th only to find that the fire and the hall were too far gone for saving.
According to South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough, “the building is a total loss.”
He told the Leader that the cause appears to be a wayward cigarette butt: “We’re thinking it’s the planter. A cigarette was disposed of in a planter at the front of the hall.”
He says that this was probably done on Thursday night during the election poll as this was the last night the building was in use.
When asked if it made sense for the fire to take so long to ignite, he said that because of the peat moss it probably “smouldered for quite some time” burning down before spreading to the building.
McDonough said that a similar situation recently occurred at the Iroquois Civic Center. A cigarette was discarded in a planter causing ignition. No damage was reported in that instance.
The fire in Dunbar also spread to a neighbouring garage door, but luckily it was spotted and fire fighters were able to extinguish the fire before any substantial damage could be done.
In terms of the Dunbar Recreation Centre, which is owned by the municipality of South Dundas, Manager of Parks and Recreation Don Lewis said nothing was salvageable.
The centre contained a kitchen, stage, dance floor, recently purchased tables, chairs and a storage room filled with supplies.
Lewis said that the building had recently undergone some changes with a new roof in 2008, as well as the addition of a handicap ramp in June 2011.
The centre is used frequently for baby showers, weddings, and even a weekly coffee club.
Lewis says it will be up to South Dundas council as to whether or not the building is replaced. He pointed out that the building was covered by insurance.