Petrolia heritage building has $100K of damage says fire chief

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Ben Coulbeck Photo

Petrolia-North Enniskillen Fire Chief Jay Arns says investigators aren’t sure what caused a fire in one of Petrolia’s heritage buildings. But he says it has both smoke, fire and water damage.

Just before noon Sunday, the Petrolia/North Enniskillen and Wyoming fire departments were called to the corner of Petrolia Line and Oil Street to the Little Red Bank after passers by saw smoke and flames coming from the eaves of the building.

The intersection of Petrolia Line and Tank Street was blocked as firefighters worked to put out the flames. At noon, firefighters could be seen with heat sensors, trying to find any hotspots left in the building.

A hole was cut in the roof of the cedar shake building near the chimney.

The bank has an Ontario Heritage designation. The building, the home to the Vaughn and Fairbank Bank, opened August 10th 1869 in Oil Springs. It was moved to Petrolia when the oil industry began to boom in the town. It was the only bank in Petrolia for several years at the start of the oil boom. It also, reputably, became the world’s first oil exchange.

Vaughan and Fairbank operated as a private bank until 1924 when the remaining accounts moved over to the Bank of Toronto. The building is still owned by the Fairbank family and houses the law office of local solicitor Wally Lang. Staff at the law office could be seen Sunday afternoon removing some of the files from the building.

Petrolia/North Enniskillen Fire Chief Jay Arns says there is smoke, fire and water damage throughout the building. He’s estimating it will cost about $100,000 to fix.

Arns is not sure what caused the fire yet.