Fire at former Vagos bike clubhouse in Peterborough
UPDATE: City police stated Monday morning that an arson investigation is underway following the fire at a former biker clubhouse in Peterborough. Meanwhile an excavator was at the site on Monday afternoon clearing away debris from the fire. Crews also boarded up the house, which remains guarded by city police.
The former biker clubhouse on Park St. that was gutted by fire on Friday had just been sold, the realtor handling the deal said Saturday after it went up in flames.
Patrick Mahoney, an agent with Re/Max, said the conditions of sale were removed on the house Friday - less than 12 hours after it went up in flames.
“We’d firmed up a deal – it was sold, and waiting to close next Friday,” Mahoney said.
The 2 1/2 storey house is at the southeast corner of Park and Perry streets in Peterborough. Mahoney said a bid was accepted on Feb. 23. It had been for sale since Dec. 11.
City firefighters were called there around 12:22 a.m. Saturday. The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.
Mahoney said nobody was hurt in the fire. There had been a tenant renting the entire house, but that occupant moved out March 16.
He said damage to the house is extensive.
“It’s been gutted,” he said. “It’s pretty safe to say it will be torn down – it’s completely unsafe.”
It was unclear to Mahoney on Saturday what will happen now: If insurance covers the cost of rebuilding, then perhaps the buyer will follow through with the sale. If not, the seller is stuck with a property worth half the original price.
The house is owned by Nancy Foote, of Campbellford, the common-law spouse of long-time Peterborough biker Bob Pammett who has set up a Vagos biker gang chapter at the clubhouse several years ago.
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office and city police spent Saturday investigating after the fire early Saturday morning gutted the building.
There is no estimate of damage yet, Platoon Chief Jeff Guest stated, and it’s not determined if anyone was injured.
Firefighters battled in freezing rain for hours overnight to bring the stubborn blaze under control.
When they arrived they found flames shooting out of the house and heavy smoke billowing in the neighbourhood.
An aerial ladder truck was later brought in to attack the fire from above. Portions of the roof of the house later collapsed.
City police blocked off Park Street between Albert and Lake streets and Perry Street between Bethune and Park streets while firefighters battled to keep the blaze from spreading.
Park Street reopened late Saturday morning but a section of Perry Street in front of the house remained closed to vehicles and pedestrians and guarded by police into Saturday night..
Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office investigators arrived to poke through the charred remains on Saturday afternoon while a city police forensics investigation also continued.
The property is also near the freight rail line through the city. Train traffic along the line was halted while firefighters battled the blaze.
Peterborough Utilities was called in to deal with downed hydro lines.
The property had been earlier used by the Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang. The Vagos chapter patched over to the Outlaws in 2015. An Outlaws club sign was posted on the side of the clubhouse last year before the property went up for sale.
In 2013 city police raided the clubhouse over the city’s fortification bylaw and ripped out surveillance cameras. But city police later had to buy the Vagos a new camera system after police and lawyers later determined the cameras had to be returned.
The train tracks near the clubhouse had been the scene where a group of rivals attacked Loners outlaw motorcycle gang member Fernando Fernandes with baseball bats on July 22, 2012. Pierre Aragon was found guilty in the beating in 2014 after a trial where the court heard a 911 call that was accidentally pocket-dialled during the beating.