Chuck's Diner on the Hardscratch Road in Yarmouth County was gutted by an early morning Aug. 29 fire. This photo was taken around 5:20 a.m. as the fire department was also arriving on the scene.
©Photo courtesy of Huijing Wang Malone
YARMOUTH, N.S. – The Yarmouth Town RCMP say two people have been arrested and charges are pending in connection with an early morning fire that gutted a Yarmouth eatery on Aug. 29.
But as of the time of this posting no charges had been laid.
Firefighters were called to a blaze at Chuck’s Diner on the Hardscratch Road around 5:20 a.m. on Aug. 29. Following an investigation at the scene by the RCMP and the Nova Scotia Fire Marshal’s Office, the police said evidence collected pointed to the fire as having been intentionally set.
On Sept. 1, the RCMP released a photo of a white, five-gallon jug that was found at the scene. The RCMP said it has been determined that the container was used to transport gasoline.
“The RCMP is asking for members of the public, particularly those who work at service stations in the area, to come forward if they noticed anyone filling a container like (this one) before Tuesday Aug. 29,” the RCMP said in a media release.
“We are hoping that by going out with this release we will receive assistance from the public with identifying the person who might have been seen filling this jug with gasoline,” added RCMP spokesperson Corporal Dal Hutchinson. Given that this is an ongoing investigation he said he could not comment if there were fingerprints on the jug.
The town RCMP said they arrested two people on Aug. 31 in relation to this investigation. The two individuals were released without charges, although the RCMP say charges are pending. But because charges have not been laid no names are released. Nor was Cpl. Hutchinson able to confirm the ages and genders when asked.
“Once sufficient evidence is obtained to support laying of criminal charges then charges will be laid,” Cpl. Hutchinson said Friday, Aug. 1, around noontime. “I am not able to confirm what charges will be laid, however, arson would be considered.”
Anyone with information that can help this investigation – and particularly with information about the white jug – is asked to contact Yarmouth Town RCMP at 902-742-8777 or 1-800-803-RCMP (7267). Should people wish to remain anonymous, they can also contact Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477) or text TIP202 + your message to 'CRIMES' ( 274637) or submit tips by Secure Web Tips at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca. Calls to Crime Stoppers are not taped or traced.
At the fire scene on Tuesday, Yarmouth Fire Department Platoon Chief Lynn Seeley said the Aug. 29 call about the fire came in at around 5:20 a.m. He said the call was placed by the RCMP. Seeley said the fire was fully involved when firefighters arrived. There was concern of it spreading to an adjacent business, but firefighters were able to prevent that from happening. Four fire departments responded with manpower: Yarmouth, Port Maitland, Wedgeport and Lake Vaughn.
On the Chuck’s Diner Facebook page later that morning a message was posted letting the public know everyone was okay but the building “was gone” as a result of a fire. “There is a lot of damage. At this point we don't know what is going on, but as soon as we do we will let everyone know,” the post read. In response, many people left comments saying they were sad to hear the news of the fire and they hope the owner will consider rebuilding.
Chuck’s Diner put another posting on its Facebook page on Aug. 30 that read: “As people have seen, the police and the fire inspectors have all come to the same conclusion. The fire was intentionally set. This simple means that someone set the restaurant on fire. If you see any comments of Facebook, Instagram, or twitter please get a screen grab of what you see and report it to the town RCMP. People are posting thing and removing them faster than we can report them. If you know something or saw something please either let us know on here and we will report it for you or call it in yourself.
“We don't know if it was a hate crime or act of violence against us or just me,” posted the business owner. “But what we do know is that the police are looking at everything.”