Forgotten ash bucket cause of Abbott house fire

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Firefighters from Wyoming say an ash bucket caused house fire east of Reece’s Corners which destroyed the home of a world-class boat maker.

Thursday morning, the department was called to the home of Bill Abbott – the founder of Sarnia’s Abbott Boats – tucked into the trees at the end of Minielly Road between London Line and Highway 402. Wyoming Fire Chief Mike Vasey says Abbott and his wife were in the house when the fire started but had left the building before firefighters arrived.

Thirty-five firefighters from three other departments, Camlachie, Petrolia/North Enniskillen and Warwick, were called in to help until about 7 pm. Wyoming firefighters stayed throughout the night to douse any hotspots.

Vasey says the extreme cold made it difficult to fight the fire. Valves on pumper trucks froze, hoses burst and the firefighters could only work in the cold for a short period of time before going to warm themselves.

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office was called because of the value of the home, estimated at about $500,000. Vasey says while well built, the fire has gutted the interior and a main support beam broke making the structure unsafe to enter.

Vasey says the family had gone above and beyond to maintain two fireplaces and a woodstove in the home but forgot to remove an ash bucket after cleaning out the woodstove Tuesday.

Vasey says the ash acts as an insulator for any embers and if it gets a bit of oxygen can ignite.

In 2006, the Abbott family was devastated when a number of buildings at their business were destroyed by fire.