Canadian Hotel badly damaged in fire

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  • Firefighters tackled a blaze at the Canadian Hotel on Reid Street in Hamilton this morning.

    Firefighters tackled a blaze at the Canadian Hotel on Reid Street in Hamilton this morning.
    (Akil Simmons)

  • The scene of the fire this morning.

    The scene of the fire this morning.
    (Glenn Tucker)

Reid Street is closed to traffic between King and Court Streets while experts examine the structure of the old Canadian Hotel.

The derelict building was badly damaged in a fire last night.

Police issued the following release this afternoon: "The section of Reid Street between King Street and Court Street has now been closed to all traffic until further notice. This is being done as a precaution while structural issues regarding the old Canadian Hotel building recently damaged by fire are addressed.

"The Bermuda Police Service appreciates the public’s continued cooperation and patience as traffic delays are anticipated in the area as a result."

No-one is believed to have been hurt in the fire, which broke out shortly after 10pm.

Proprietor Thomas Powell said he was sure the blaze was caused by human hands.

"There was nothing inside the building to create a fire, so it had to be individuals inside," he told The Royal Gazette. "People would get in there illegally despite constant efforts to keep them out."

The former rooming house had been empty for about three years, but still contained some furniture.

Mr Powell said the fire appeared to have swept through the back of the main building, and he believes some floors may have collapsed, but he said the front of the old hotel looked solid. However, he said, police told him an engineer will be brought in to assess whether there is any danger.

"It's an old building with wooden floors and wood in the roof," he said.

Mr Powell only learned of the fire early this morning. He has sought investment for years to develop the site, which consists of a few buildings grouped together, but hasn't been able to move the project forward.

"There was no electricity in any of the buildings - Belco removed the transformers more than a year ago," Mr Powell said. His hunch is that individuals who sneak into the old premises through the roof caused the blaze.

Apologising for traffic delays this morning, police said an investigation into the cause is ongoing.

From the street, the building, boarded up and discoloured, appears little changed. There is no smoke.

Mr Powell added that a strong north wind last night appeared to have pushed the smoke and sparks over the harbour.

At least six fire engines and dozens of firefighters responded to the blaze. The environs on Reid and Court Streets were closed off, and police remained overnight.

Development has been hoped for the site for several years, but has not been able to proceed without backers. Mr Powell said he had no idea how last night's fire might affect plans to demolish and rebuild at the property.

A Police spokesman said: “For safety reasons following the fire at the old Canadian Hotel building on Reid Street in the City of Hamilton, traffic will be reduced to one lane on Reid Street in the vicinity of the building and pedestrians will not be allowed near the scene.

"We appreciate the public's cooperation and patience as some traffic delays are anticipated in the area as a result. The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.”

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Published Dec 20, 2012 at 12:01 am (Updated Dec 20, 2012 at 12:18 am)

Canadian Hotel badly damaged in fire

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