Heritage home sustains roughly $150,000-$200,000 in damages


By Ron Giofu


A house fire at a heritage home in Amherstburg has resulted in roughly $150,000-$200,000 to the house and contents, say the Amherstburg Fire Department.

Deputy Chief Jim Ouellette said fire crews were on hand at 73 Rankin Ave. for roughly four hours Friday evening. He said Tuesday morning that the final report from the investigation hadn’t been completed but believes a cause had been pinpointed.

“It’s more than likely it started in the fireplace area,” said Ouellette cheap water slides.

Ouellette stated one person was home at the time and heard “crackling” and went outside to discover the home was on fire. Flames were coming out the side of the home and smoke was coming out of the eaves when firefighters arrived.

“Everyone got out safe,” he said, adding that pets in the home were removed safely as well.

A total of 42 firefighters from all three Amherstburg stations attended with three suffering minor injuries. Ouellette said all were treated at the scene with such injuries as back strains and minor slip and fall injuries.

An Amherstburg firefighter clears out a chimney after extinguishing the fire at 73 Rankin Ave. Friday evening

An Amherstburg firefighter clears out a chimney after extinguishing the fire at 73 Rankin Ave. Friday evening

In addition to fire damage, there was a lot of water damage, Ouellette added. The attic and rafters were a focal point when fighting the fire with a lot of water having been needed to douse it. Ouellette believed the house to be repairable.

The town passed a bylaw in 2010 declaring the home “as being of architectural and cultural heritage value or interest.” The home is also known as the “Captain Allen House.”

According to material provided with the bylaw at the time, the home was built in 1880 by Peter Henderson, as a home for he and wife   Rebecca and was originally part of the garrison grounds of Fort Malden. Captain Christopher Allen and wife Mary lived in the home from 1885 until 1891 when they moved to Cleveland.

The “noted Great Lakes shipmaster” then rented the home until 1901 when it was sold to W.H. Gatfield. Gatfield, according to the documentation in the bylaw, continued to rent the home until 1919 when it was sold to Arthur Kemp.

The home is currently owned by Chris and Janet Willoughby.

Janet said Tuesday morning they did not know the official cause of the fire or damage estimates.

“We would however like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the fire department for the awesome job they did on Friday night saving our house,” she said in an e-mail.

She also expressed gratitude to   Amherstburg police, Essex-Windsor EMS, neighbours and people who went by and knocked on the door in order to try and assist as a result Friday night’s fire.

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