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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Fire destroys much of Meech & Munch

An early morning fire destroyed the back half of Chelsea’s Meech & Munch restaurant during the wee hours of Aug. 12.

According to Chelsea fire chief Charles Éthier, a passerby called 9-11 just before 2:45 a.m. after spotting flames spewing from the back of the Old Chelsea restaurant. Éthier said crews were on scene shortly after the call and had the blaze under control within a few hours. Old Chelsea Road was closed to traffic for much of the morning of Aug. 12 as fire crews worked to determine the cause of the blaze.

“It’s still under investigation,” said Éthier. “We have to evaluate all possibilities, and we haven’t found the point of origin, so it’s hard to determine how it started. Did it start under the deck or in the ceiling?”

Éthier told the Low Down that, from witness accounts, the fire seemed to be contained to the back half of the building, and fire crews were able to save the front portion, which only saw minor smoke damage. However, part of the roof over the kitchen collapsed, and Éthier expects much of the back half of the building - which includes a kitchen and an outdoor pergola - will have to be torn down.

The fire's aftermath shows how fire crews were able to save the front of the building at Meech & Munch but couldn’t do much to save the kitchen and the outdoor patio structure. Trevor Greenway

“It seemed like a big ball of fire from the outside. But we were able to save the old part, the part of the house. Just a bit of smoke damage, but that part is ok, but the rest will probably be torn down eventually,” he said.

A big ball of fire was exactly what neighbour Brigid Rowan saw when she and her partner Scott Findlay awoke to “popping and cracking” noises outside. When they checked out the scene, all they saw were flames.

“It was pretty shocking,” said Rowan, who snapped several photos of the intense flames spewing out the back of the building. “It was really dramatic. I felt like a journalist in a hot spot.” The photographer did as any news photog would do: keep shooting. Rowan captured intense images and video of the flames as it was burning. From a video taken inside her home on Chemin Vincent, large flames can be seen engulfing the back outdoor structure as fire crews battled the blaze. She was on scene for several hours as Chelsea’s fire department quelled the flames with the help of Cantley and La Pêche’s firefighters.

“They had the blaze contained very quickly,” she said, praising the work of volunteer firefighters from the three departments. “They seemed organized; they seemed professional.”

Meech & Munch owner Joey Rivers told the Low Down that he is hoping to shuffle his employees to other restaurants he owns so that they can still receive a paycheck as he rebuilds what he calls, “2.0 Meech & Munch.”

“The good news is that nobody was on site when the fire took place,” said Rivers. “It was really sad news that we received this weekend. I would like to thank the police and firefighters who did a huge job to stop the fire.”

Éthier couldn’t say how much damage was caused during the blaze, as it is still under investigation. Nobody was injured in the fire.

The file was transferred to investigators from the MRC des Collines Police, who, in turn, turned it over to the Sûreté du Quebec. MRC des Collines Sergeant Dominic Robitaille said although the cause of the blaze has yet to be determined, there will be no criminal investigation.

Meech & Munch was at the centre of a criminal investigation in 2020 after someone threw a Molotov cocktail into the building. No criminal charges were laid in that case.

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