By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
A northwest Dundas building, home to a couple of light industrial companies and site of potential residential redevelopment, was destroyed by fire overnight Tuesday (Nov 14).
The building at 10 Bond St. N. had been listed for sale for several months. Until the fire, it was home to Watson’s Engraving, a local sign-making company, and Prema Canada, a tire equipment wholesaler.
Scott Watson, who operates the sign company with his parents and one part-time employee, said they were planning to stay in the location for as long as possible. Despite the property being for sale, there had not been any notice given to relocate yet.
Watson said the company had already received offers for a couple of new locations - one in Dundas, one in Greensville - by 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
"We've been lucky," Watson said, adding other sign making companies have offered their space to allow Watson's to keep operating.
They've been operating at 10 Bond St. N. for five years, and before that at a couple of other Dundas locations since 1994.
Watson said they were waiting for their insurance company to get a look at the site, possibly during the day on Thursday.
Wednesday afternoon, the structure still had "hot spots" and an Ontario Fire Marshal investigator was sent to the site but apparently could not yet access what's left of the building.
Hamilton Fire Service spokesperson Dave Christopher said the fire appeared to start in some wooden pallets outside the building – but the official cause will be determined by an Ontario Fire Marshal investigator.
Six units responded to an alarm at 10:33 p.m., Tuesday. They found the pallets ablaze, and a fire inside the building.
Christopher said firefighters attempted three aggressive attacks, but the fire spread quickly through parts of the building that are apparently over sixty years old. The responders decided to take a defensive approach to the fire, rather than putting crews at risk inside the structure.
By 8:30 a.m., as the fire continued, a total of 30 fire trucks were on the scene.
Residents of neighbouring townhouses were evacuated as a precaution, but Christopher said no injuries were reported.
Christopher said no water runoff effluent entered nearby Spencer Creek, and Ministry of Environment staff was on site. He said a lack of wind helped ensure smoke went straight up into the sky instead of blowing around the residential neighbourhood.
No official cause has been determined, as that will be the responsibility of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office because of the high loss incurred. Early estimates put the loss at approximately $1-million.
In 2009, the owner of 10 Bond St. N. participated in a formal consultation with the City of Hamilton planning department about the potential to rezone and redevelop the site into a six-storey residential building with 85 units and underground parking.
Staff at Watson’s Engraving were unaware of the early proposal at that time, and said they still had four years left in a five-year lease.
The property was listed for sale at least six months ago, with an asking price of $1,009,000. That price was later dropped to $889,000.
The listing noted the 1.72-acre site included buildings with approximately 27,750 square feet and though currently zoned light industrial it was a potential redevelopment site.
“Seller has concept plan and reports available. Buyer to verify zoning and future use,” the listing stated.
Realtor Larry Szpirglas confirmed the property had not yet been sold and was still listed. He was not sure what the owner's plans are.
The property has been owned by Len Lottridge since 1995.