Kahnawake Mohawk Territory- January 16, 2017, The Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers issued a press release this afternoon in regards to a fire that ravaged through four businesses at the Plaza along the Highway 138 in the early hours of January 12th. The Peacekeepers believe the targeted business was the HR Kustoms Motorcycle Shop and are requesting public assistance for any information available.
Video surveillance was extracted, showing two suspects seen carrying gas cans and bags towards the back of the motorcycle shop, then fleeing the scene just minutes after. A total of four businesses were lost; which include the 99 Restaurant, A1 Tickets, HR Kustoms, and Sweety’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop, which was adjacent to WolfCo Gas Station.
The incident was phoned in around 3:20am, creating mayhem for city bound commuters who were redirected to the Champlain Bridge. There were concerns over the proximity of the gas and propane tanks, in which authorities established a safety perimeter blocking off a five-kilometer stretch of the highway for more than four hours during the morning commute. Highway 138 was closed until 10:35am, allowing responders to completely shut out the flame, and eliminate any dangers to the public.
A Chateauguay, QC resident, Brandon Betournay, dispatched the call to the Kahnawake Fire Brigade, to report smoke coming from the buildings direction. As Betournay made the call he watched as flames burst through the roof and immediately spread throughout the commercial building. Within minutes the structure was completely engulfed.
More than 50 firefighters responded to the scene from five different communities, as the area required tankers to haul in water a fire of this magnitude. Responding fire stations included the communities of Mercier, Saint-Isidore, Chateauguay, Saint-Remi, and the Kahnawake Fire Brigade. There were no injuries sustained by first responders or the public.
About 15 Kahnawakeronon have temporarily lost their jobs until further notice, due to this fire. CEO of Tewatohnhi’saktha, the Kahnawake Economic Development Commission, Kyle Delisle, stated in a press release that they’re, “trying to work with the businesses to see if we can get them up and running as soon as possible, whether it’s rebuilding the site here or finding another spot for them in Kahnawake to reopen.”
Jeremy White, son of the owner of the 99 Restaurant made a devastated post early Thursday morning, sharing these tragic photos of his family’s loss. “The scene at what used to be The 99 Resto Bar. What a horrible morning for my family. My poor mother, from a place of pure love and passion, put everything she had into The 99; Just absolutely devastating… Thank you to the FANTASTIC Kahnawa:ke Fire Brigade, Peace Keepers and surrounding community first responders for a brilliant job, world class! Thankfully no one was hurt. My family thanks you for all the kind messages and for your continued support through the years. This is a tough one.”
Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact the Kahnawake Peacekeepers Investigation Unit at (450) 632-6505; or you may leave an anonymous tip on the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (450) 632-2802.