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Rockwood-area fire results in 'at least' $600,000 damage (6 photos)

Investigators don't think Monday's blaze is related to five suspicious rural fires in recent months

Fire officials say they will likely not be able to determine what started a fire that caused an estimated $800,000 in damage to a property just east of Rockwood on Monday.

But fire investigator Manny Garcia of the Ontario Fire Marshall's Office said he's pretty sure this fire isn't related to a string of fires in recent months at other abandoned rural properties in the area.

"Because they have had a number of suspicious fires, fire crews are very much alerted to what to look for," Garcia said of the Guelph-Eramosa fire crews that were first on the scene.

"They noticed that there was no footprints in the snow leading to or from the building. The building was secure. No break and enter."

The call came in to 911 about 9:30 a.m. about the fire on County Road 7, just off Highway 7, about two minutes east of Rockwood. When firefighters arrived the buildings were fully engulfed, Garcia said.
"I'm sure that if there was something to see, they would have seen it. Specifically since one of the command officers did a 360 (degree) of the property," he said.

"It wasn't a situation where the fire crews said 'I don't think there was any footprints.' No, these guys were looking for it," Garcia said.

A two-storey residence and a large one-storey shed were completely destroyed by the fire. No one was injured.

Owners were doing some restoration to turn the property into a summer house, Garcia said. No one had lived in it for at least three years.

Several vehicles being stored at the property worth around $200,000, including a brand new F350 pickup truck and a 1976 mint condition Mustang, were also destroyed, Garcia said.

The property wasn't abandoned and had all utilities hooked up. There were also propane cylinders used on a large tow motor on the property.

Garcia said there were just too many variables to come up with a likely cause for the fire.

"We've done our investigations as far as we can," he said.

"You've got multiple possible sources of ignition. Everything from electrical wires being gnawed on by rodents to a failure in the electrical system to who knows?" Garcia said.

"Having said all that, I think this fire will probably be "undetermined." There's just too much damage and too many sources of ignition for me to be able to eliminate them.

"The biggest problem I have is that unless I can narrow down that area of origin to 10 or 15 square feet, I can't then narrow down the source of ignition within that area of origin."