The Ontario Fire Marshal has concluded the fire that ripped through this Hyde Park strip mall in June was not set intentionally. (London Free Press – File photo)

The cause of a fire that tore through a Hyde Park strip mall last summer, causing more than $1 million in damage and displacing businesses, has been ruled accidental by Ontario Fire Marshal investigators.

“It wasn’t intentionally set, that was their conclusion. They thought it was accidental, but they just don’t know what the accidental cause was,” said London fire Chief John Kobarda.

The fire department received the report from the fire marshal’s office several days ago.

The extensive damage to the mall that housed 14 businesses made it impossible to pinpoint the exact cause. The evidence points to the fire starting in the attic area, Kobarda said.

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene June 30 about 6:30 p.m. the entire roof line was on fire, he said.

Smoke from the blaze could be seen for kilometres, drawing a large crowd of spectators. Several vehicles parked near the mall went up in flames as well.

In all, nine business were destroyed with total damages estimated at $1.5 million.

Donna Szpakowski, president of the Hyde Park Business Association, witnessed the fire.

“It was surreal. You don’t, thankfully, often see things like that happen,” she said.

The fire was an additional blow to the Hyde Park business community t already facing the disruption of road widening construction through the area.

The good news now, Szpakowski said, is that although three businesses have closed as a result of the fire, most have been able to re-establish their enterprises in other spots.

“It is really great news,” she said.

jminer@postmedia.com

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Source: Strip mall fire ruled accidental | The London Free Press