A fire which destroyed two buildings in downtown Hawkesbury on Monday, December 6, and Tuesday, December 7 ended up consuming four days for the Hawkesbury Fire Department and eight other local fire departments. 

According to Hawkesbury Fire Chief Normand Beauchamp, firefighters received the call at approximately 5:30 p.m. on December 6. The two buildings were located on the north side of Main Street between John and William streets. The buildings contained vacant retail and restaurant space on the ground floor and apartments on the upper levels. Historical photos indicate one of the buildings was formerly the home to Sam Greenspon’s, a landmark clothing retailer during the 1950s and 1960s. 

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported no injuries to occupants or emergency personnel due to the fire. Beauchamp said approximately nine to 12 people lived in the two buildings, and each of them has since found other accommodations.  

Smoke was still rising from the two buildings on Tuesday, December 7. Beauchamp said firefighters remained at the scene for safety purposes until 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 9. He said that at various points during the fire, crews from L’Orignal, East Hawkesbury, Alfred and Plantagenet, Alexandria, Grenville village, Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Brownsburg-Chatham, and Lachute assisted. Vankleek Hill firefighters covered other calls in Hawkesbury on the night of December 6 while the Hawkesbury department was occupied with the downtown blaze.  

“It’s one of the largest operations that’s happened in town for a while,” said Beauchamp. 

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Beauchamp said the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office was not investigating the cause, but it had been contacted for resource purposes. 

Beauchamp estimated firefighters devoted approximately 75 hours to the fire. 

“That doesn’t happen often, I can tell you.” 

The chief said factors which made the fire difficult to fight were the wooden construction of the old buildings, wind, and the temperature outside. Beauchamp eventually determined the remains of the buildings were unsafe and ordered them demolished. By the afternoon of Friday, December 10, the site was a pile of rubble. 

Beauchamp estimated the total value of damage from the fire on Main Street in downtown Hawkesbury is $1.5 to $2million.  

Pets perish, but kittens rescued 

Unfortunately, a mother cat died, and some four-day-old kittens were orphaned as a result of the fire. Operation Spay and Neuter of Hawkesbury assisted and found the kittens a foster home with a nursing mother cat through Furry Tales Cat Rescue. 

Another cat, and a service dog belonging to one of the occupants of the building also died in the fire. 

Fire in downtown Hawkesbury on December 6, 2021. Photo: James Morgan

Firefighters remained at the scene on Tuesday, December 7. Photo: Barry Goudreau.

Firefighters remained at the site on Tuesday, December 7. The cause of the fire in downtown Hawkesbury is under investigation. Photo: Barry Goudreau.

By Wednesday, all that remained of the buildings was rubble. Photo: Barry Goudreau