Hart family guest-house burns, arson blamed
By NADIA MOHARIB -- Calgary Sun
HART HOUSE FIRE CALLED ARSON ... Wrestling family patriarch Stu Hart outside the guest-house that was destroyed by fire. Investigators say the
blaze was deliberately set. -- Carlos Amat, Calgary Sun
Investigators say a blaze that gutted a guest-house owned by wrestling's famous Hart family was arson.
"I think it was deliberately set -- it was meant to cause damage but I don't honestly believe anyone meant to burn the house down," police arson unit Det. Rod McCrae said yesterday.
"I don't think it's an attack against the Hart family."
Fire began Tuesday night in a pile of rubbish, mattresses and old fighting-ring frames stored outside the two-storey brick guest-house beside the mansion owned by Helen and Stu Hart.
Investigators found no evidence of igniting liquid or accelerants in the charred remains.
Fire travelled up the building' brick exterior to the dormer and burned through straw and sawdust insulation, along wooden eaves into the rafters, said district fire chief Garry Bachmeier.
Three people inside escaped unharmed.
The guest-house, built in 1905, was being renovated for the Harts' grandson, 20-year-old Ted Annis.
About $16,000 worth of electronics, including a big-screen TV and high-tech stereo system, were lost in the blaze, which caused an estimated $150,000 in damage.
"Furniture from the Brick was to come in (today). The painters haven't even been paid yet," Annis' father B.J. said.
It's the second time the historic quarters -- with a past that includes a visit from one-time world boxing champ Jack Dempsey -- has been gutted by fire.
It rose from the ashes after an electrical fire some 20 years ago, and will be rebuilt after this week's blaze.
Wrestling legend Stu, who owns the Patterson Heights property, doesn't fear his home was targeted by malicious criminals. He believes guests accidentally set fire to rubbish beside the building.
"It's in the family you might say. But I haven't got the guts to make a big deal out of it," the 85-year-old said yesterday.
"We're just lucky to salvage it."
But his daughter Ellie Hart isn't ruling out anything. "I don't know why anyone would want to torch my dad's house. Maybe someone had a vendetta. Nothing would surprise me," she said.