Fire destroys community fridge in Centretown

Fire destroys community fridge in Centretown
Fire destroys community fridge in Centretown

A fire Wednesday morning has destroyed a community fridge in Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood.

Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson Nick DeFazio said the call about a fire at 415 MacLaren St. came in shortly after 7:15 am He said the investigation has now been turned over to police.

Susan Palmai, a volunteer and member of the Centretown Churches Social Action Committee who helps run the community fridge, said she was visiting the MacLaren Street site in the morning when she saw police and firefighters.

“I thought, oh my goodness!” she said.

Palmai said things were running smoothly for the community program recently until when someone stole shelving from inside the fridge. Other shelves at the site were burned earlier this week.

“Just devastated,” an emotional Palmai said, describing her reaction to the apparent vandalism. “We worked really hard on this for three years… and it was working beautifully.”

An Ottawa police officer inspects the burned fridge on Wednesday. (Kate Adach/CBC)

Palmai said volunteers have been stocking, cleaning and recruiting donations for the fridge to divert food waste and help community members since October 2022.

The fridge was donated by a local coffee shop, and architecture students from Carleton University volunteered their time to help build a structure to house it.

Palmai said she hopes the structure can at least be salvaged.

“I really feel for the people who will not get food for the next foreseeable future until we are back running again,” she said.

CBC News has contacted Ottawa police for more information but has not yet received a response.

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