A historic part of Walton’s picturesque small town went up in smoke last week.
Local firefighters were called to extinguish flames consuming a fully engulfed Walton Wharf around 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 9. Pictures surfacing on various social media websites show the wooden structure aglow, with flames shooting high above the surface.
Walton’s Fire Chief Marty Ross says thick smoke and extreme heat made their job difficult, but firefighters from Walton, Noel, Summerville and Brooklyn had the upper hand within a couple of hours.
“The structure is still standing,” he said of the 300-foot wharf. “The furthest end took the heaviest damage.”
Ross says the size of the fire made it quite visible for anyone passing through, and he noticed small crowds forming on the sidelines.
“It lit up the sky,” he said.
Fire crews pulled out around 1:30 a.m.
Const. George Cameron, of the Windsor District RCMP, said there’s no clear indication of what started the fire, but it is being treated as a suspicious incident.
“There was no [natural] reason for it to catch fire,” he said. “It was definitely lit.”
“It’s not like one neighbour set the other neighbour’s shed on fire type of thing; this wharf was used by the whole community, so the whole community is feeling the effects of it.” - Const. George Cameron
Along with provincial fire marshals, Cameron was scouring the area surrounding the wharf for clues on Friday morning. He says it is highly likely key pieces of evidence were torched.
“The older wharfs, there’s a lot of creosote in them so when fire happens, it tends to damage any possible evidence that could be left behind.”
The wooden structure has been reduced to patchy sections of charred beams and planks, he said. No one was harmed in the incident.
Cameron noted that the damage done extends far beyond the targeted area.
“It’s not like one neighbour set the other neighbour’s shed on fire type of thing; this wharf was used by the whole community, so the whole community is feeling the effects of it.”
The police are counting on community members to contact Crime Stoppers (1-800-222-8477) with information that could lead to positive developments in the open case. Tipsters could qualify for a cash reward if information provided leads to an arrest.