Edmonton, AB, Canada – Arson fire in pub at historic building contained with help from sprinkler system

Firefighters were called to a downtown Edmonton pub early Tuesday morning, after several kitchen appliances were turned on during a break-in. Crews responded around 4:20 a.m. to alarms at Mercer Tavern, located inside the Mercer Warehouse on 104 Street near 104 Avenue. “The second call came in stating that the delivery gentleman at the back of the building opened up the back door and found smoke coming out and extensive heat from the building,” district Chief Brian Lees said, adding that at that time, the call was upgraded to a structure fire.

Crews arrived on scene and found what appeared to be smoke billowing out of the kitchen’s back door. When firefighters entered the building, their equipment detected very high levels of carbon monoxide so they quickly went back outside.

“When you get 260 [parts per million] in an old concrete building like this style, there’s no way of ventilating it when the gas gets moving because of the design of the building. They made a good decision to pull out of the building and start ventilating and get the CO levels down,” Lees said.

Firefighters discovered all of the burners on the stoves and gas-fuelled toasters were on when they arrived. Mercer Warehouse spokesperson Justin Archer said after the tavern was closed early Tuesday morning, someone broke in and turned on the gas stoves. The heat from the industrial appliances set off the sprinkler system, which in turn produced steam.

“You know what, it could be that he was hungry and wanted to make himself a meal. I’m not too sure, ” said Mercer Warehouse owner Devin Pope. “The fellow, we do not recognize so we aren’t too sure what he was thinking. The police are going to figure that out.

Archer said several bottles of alcohol were also stolen. He said the tavern would be open at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Crews ventilated the building, got the gas turned off, and put the fire out with the help of the sprinkler system. The Mercer Warehouse is home to several eateries, over a dozen small businesses, and entrepreneurial mentorship company StartUp Edmonton. There’s no word on how much damage was caused.

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