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 Low loses ‘institution’ to raging fire

May 16th,2024 | News

Intense flames consume Low’s Pineview Restaurant on May 7. Photo: Kathleen Wilson

It didn’t take long for the Pineview Restaurant in Low to become engulfed in flames. 

The fire ignited around 3:30 p.m. May 7 and within minutes flames were shooting through the roof. By dusk, the last remaining restaurant in Low – the only place where locals could get a classic bacon and eggs breakfast or afternoon club sandwich – was but a smoldering heap of debris. 

“We’re heartbroken,” said owner Lorraine Marengere Roussel, who has owned the restaurant for the past nine years after she purchased it from her brother Jean-Guy. “This was a place of history. We are so sad. My customers, my employees – I just love them so much.”

Marengere said she had just closed up the shop at around 3:15 p.m. and then got a call that the restaurant was on fire. 

Nobody was injured in the afternoon blaze, but The Pineview, which locals called “an institution,” is no more. 

“The Pineview is a part of Low,” said resident Sarah Desmarais, watching the restaurant burn to the ground from her aunt’s property – about 30 feet away from where intense flames were rapidly consuming the building. You could hear wood crackling and firefighters shouting as they tried to battle the raging fire – a battle they were quickly losing. The building was shrouded in a thick cloud of black smoke for several hours as crews doused the restaurant with truckloads of water.

“The flames were about as high as the roof,” added Desmarais, 18. She and her friends were nearby when they saw the flames, thought it was her aunt’s home on fire and rushed to the property. Desmarais said they began preparing in case the Pineview fire spread. 

“My aunt came, and she was pretty nervous that it was going to spread to her garage and we just went inside and took the cats outside of her house to be safe,” she said. “She’s pretty shaken up.”

The large fire closed down a portion of northbound Hwy 105 between O’Connor’s gas station and the CLSC building and brought more than a half dozen fire trucks from Low, Kazabazua, Lac-Ste-Marie, Gracefield and La Pêche to help fight the blaze. When the Low Down arrived on the scene, it was difficult to see through the thick, black smoke that was billowing from the building. Cars were at a standstill and a few firefighters who had just arrived were suiting up in their gear.

“Everything caught very fast,” said Low Fire Chief Michel Lemieux, who spotted smoke at the restaurant around 3:30 p.m. as he was on his way to the O’Connor gas station.  He said he immediately called into the station to alert the firefighters and said by the time crews arrived a few minutes later, it was already too late to save the building. 

“It was very difficult to contain because it’s an old building and it had been renovated a few times,” added Chief Lemieux. “At one point we had walls made out of stucco and then wood on top of that. It went up fast.”

Lemieux said investigators are still working to determine the cause, and he couldn’t divulge where the fire started in the restaurant. No customers were inside, and no injuries were reported. 

“It was the last restaurant we had, so that’s bad news for us,” added Lemieux, who said he used to breakfast frequently at the Pineview Restaurant – always his regular two eggs over easy and sausage. “That was the only place people go for breakfast and lunch. It’s an institution, they’ve been there for so long.”

The Marengere family first opened the Pineview in 1990, drawing locals in for an early 6 a.m. breakfast or the restaurant’s famous Mother’s Day brunch, which didn’t happen this year. However, locals say that the building has housed some type of restaurant since the 1950s. 

Marengere said she wants to thank the firefighters and everyone who has supported her over the last near decade. She said she isn’t sure if the family will rebuild or not. 

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At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

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