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After nearly half a century of serving West Nipissing, The Drape Place, also known as Gaudet Fabric Limited, is no more. The business succumbed to fire on June 14, with just charred debris left and no hope of salvaging anything.
On Friday, June 14, shortly after 2:00 in the morning, the West Nipissing Fire Service was dispatched to 129 Salter Street but found the fire was already fully engulfing the old building. The fire was put out by 7:30am, just 5 hours later, but despite the fire fighters’ best efforts there remained only ashes and charred debris.
“When we got there… smoke was coming out of the eaves,” recounts WN Fire Chief Richard Maranda. “A couple of our fighters made entry… and when they got in, they saw that the attic was fully engulfed. They retreated and we then had to fight the fire from the outside. Once the fire is in the attic, it forces us outside as it’s just too dangerous to fight from the inside.”
WN Fire Service’s pumper was on site until 9am, though the fire was under control by 5:30, to take care of the hot spots that might pop up.
“There’s nothing salvageable… it’s a total lost,” regrets Maranda. “It was turned over to insurance on Friday night. We were done our investigation. There was so much damage that it’s pretty hard to determine the cause… as there’s not too much left to work with. We do have an idea where the ignition area was… but we don’t know the source. It was deemed undetermined, with no criminal aspect to it. We had tremendous help from the OPP - they did quite a bit of traffic control around the area as we fought the fire. What didn’t really help us is that the business is all fabric and vinyl… the whole place was highly flammable. The amount of combustibles in that building was tremendous and really didn’t help our cause.”
Maranda also gives a nod to his troops, sharing that within 5 minutes of the incident being recorded, they had a truck on site. “That’s a person taking the call, getting dressed, jumping in the fire truck… all in 5 minutes. Fortunately there were no injuries. Unfortunately it’s one building less in our municipality.”
Serge Gaudet, owner of the Drape Place, had been operating the business for 47 years and was rattled when he received the news.
“What a week it’s been,” he says. “We received the call around 3:30 in the morning and since then, I’ve kind of lost concept of time. It’s 47, nearly 48 years of my life gone in a couple of hours. It is very, very overwhelming.”