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$4-million fire at Goderich Home Hardware


Fire erupted from the front entrance of Watson’s Home Hardware in Goderich early Sunday morning.

A little more than 24 hours later, there’s not much left of the hardware store along Highway 21, on the southern edge of town.

Damage is estimated at $4 million.

“The building is a total loss. Fire separation on the furniture side did save that portion of the building, but contents, due to smoke and heat, there’s going to be nothing salvageable from the inside of it,” says Goderich Fire Chief, Jeff Wormington.

A passerby notice smoke coming from the building, around 7 p.m., on Saturday May 25, two hours after the store had closed for the day. Wormington says it was a “deep-seated fire” and was “difficult to find” which is why it took 13 hours for 100 firefighters from across six Huron County departments to battle.

“Massive structure. Extremely heavy fire load inside the building with the paints, supplies, chemicals, propane, fertilizers. A lot of hazards that we faced. The building was very well built, as well, sealed up really well. It contained the fire inside for an extremely long time before we could actually gain entry,” says Wormington.

The fire reminded Wormington of a blaze, over a decade ago at a dollar store in Listowel, that claimed the lives of two North Perth firefighters. The roof of that, almost identical structure collapsed on Ken Rea and Ray Walter, killing them.

“You hit the nail right on the head there. That was my first thought on my mind, Listowel. As soon as we saw it. Same style of building. That’s made a lot of changes in the fire service, how we operate,” says Wormington.

Officials with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office and Huron County OPP are investigating what started the blaze. The cause is yet undetermined, and arson hasn’t yet been ruled out. Whatever sparked the blaze, the loss of the well-known family run business, has hit the community hard.

“The Watson family, who have owned and operated the Home Hardware store in Goderich since 2012, are integral members of our business community. In addition to the Goderich location, they own five other Home Hardware locations throughout Huron and Perth counties. Their commitment to providing excellent service and support to our town has been unwavering, and now it is our turn to support them,” says Colin Carmichael, executive director of the Huron Chamber of Commerce for Goderich/Central and North Huron.

Watson’s Home Hardware Co-Owner, Richard Watson says they do hope to continue their business in Goderich, but it’s just too early to say they’ll be able to rebuild on the current site.

“Our staff cherish serving this community and look forward to continuing to do so in the near future,” says Watson’s Home Hardware on their Facebook page.

Chief Wormington says determining what started the massive fire will not happen overnight.

“It’s going to take a day or so to dig through the debris, and see if we can’t narrow it down. It’s going to be a long process,” he says.

Damage is estimated at $4-million after a fire at Watson's Home Hardware in Goderich. May 27, 2024. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

Damage is estimated at $4-million after a fire at Watson's Home Hardware in Goderich. May 27, 2024. (Scott Miller/CTV News London) Top Stories

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