Police are investigating an early-morning fire on Edmonton’s Whyte Ave. as an act of arson
Mon., May 28, 2018
EDMONTON—The future of The Forge, a music venue on Whyte Ave. in Edmonton, is up in the air after an early-morning fire Monday, its owner says.
A spokesperson with Edmonton Police confirmed Monday afternoon the blaze is being investigated as an act of arson.
The fire, which firefighters had under control by about 7 a.m., also damaged the dance bar Club 82. Neighbouring Queen Donair suffered smoke damage. There was no one in either building when the fire broke out, police said.
“I don’t know if anything’s salvageable, if we even can open here again,” said The Forge owner;s Dale Weran, standing outside the burnt building at 105 Street and 82 Avenue on Monday morning.
Weran said this was not only a big personal blow to his business, but also to the music community.
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When asked how he will feel if it’s confirmed the fire was set deliberately, he said, “Somebody maliciously doing something, that would be even worse.”
Firefighters responded to the blaze just after 5 a.m., according to Edmonton Fire Rescue spokesperson Maya Filipovic.
The police bomb unit was also on scene after “a couple different devices or suspicious packages” were discovered, according to arson-unit detective Steve Maertens-Poole.
Eight fire crews arrived on the scene five minutes after they learned of the fire and it was declared under control at 7:10 a.m., according to a press release.
For Weran, who officially opened The Forge in February 2017, the work of rebuilding is just beginning.
In the worst-case scenario, if electrical and structural damage are too extensive, Weran said he’ll explore a temporary or completely new venue as an option.
“We were actually just starting to really pick up too, so this is kind of really disheartening at this point, because July was going to be such an amazing month,” he said.
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He said he saw flames coming from the back of the building, where most of the electrical equipment is located.
Some firefighters were assessed for smoke inhalation on scene, but no one was hospitalized.
Officers had reduced traffic to one lane in each direction while detectives investigated, but by noon opened traffic back up on Whyte Avenue.
Police are asking anyone with information about the fire to come forward.
Kieran Leavitt is an Edmonton-based reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @kieranleavitt
Kevin Maimann is an Edmonton-based reporter covering education and marijuana legalization. Follow him on Twitter: @TheMaimann
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