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Cause of Simpson Street fire unknown, investigators conclude

Investigators say they have been unable to determine the cause of a fire that completely destroyed a former hotel on Simpson Street last week.
Investigators say they have been unable to determine the cause of a fire that completely destroyed a former hotel on Simpson Street last week.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue and Office of the Fire Marshal investigators were attempting to identify what caused the fire early Thursday morning that consumed the former West Hotel and Army Navy and Air Forces building on Simpson Street.

"Extensive damage to both structures didn’t’ leave us much to work with," Rolf Waffler, Office of the Fire Marshal investigator, is quoted as saying in a news release issued Monday afternoon. "When you have a building with this much damage and have to bring in heavy machinery to excavate the site, it is extremely difficult to come up with a cause."

Both buildings are city-owned and were believed to be vacant at the time of the fire. No human remains were found in the rubble.

Simpson Street is now open to traffic and the site will be barricaded while demolition takes place.

Anyone with information about the fire is being encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at 807-623-TIPS, or the Fire Prevention Office at 807-625-2650.