King Street boarding house fire deemed suspicious
LONDON, ONT. -- A weekend fire at a King Street boarding house connected to a former president of the London Hells Angels chapter has been deemed suspicious.
Investigators from the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, along with London police, have been combing through the scene at 629 King St..
Ten people managed to escape unharmed when fire swept through the semi-detached home around 3:40 Sunday morning. OFM lead investigator Andrea Daynor said they’re still trying to determine the cause.
“We’re here because this is considered a suspicious fire, find out what the ignition source is and what the fuel source is. It’s just there’s nothing obvious. Certainly it’s not a cooking for, or a fire that stems from a barbecue or something of that fashion, so we have to go through it all and determine what exactly happened here.”
The home is owned by the Barletta family, which also owns the Beef Baron strip club on York Street, just behind the home.
London Abused Women’s Centre executive director Megan Walker said the home has been on the agency’s radar for a long time.
“And I can tell you we have had families that have come to our agency from across Canada who have reported that their young daughters who are supposed to be at Western University or Fanshawe College have been lured into the sex trade by a trafficker and actually being housed at that boarding house behind the Beef Baron.”
Beef Baron operator Rob Barletta has been investigated in the past for suspected ties to organized crime.
He’s currently out on bail after being released from custody last week after being arrested on gaming allegations.
A heavily fortified home that was part of a gaming investigation, and is also linked to Barletta, was burned down late last year.
That followed a fire in 2018 that destroyed a cottage in the Blue Mountains owned by Barletta.