“It’s just devastating,” said Leona Murray, owner of Northcoast Anglers with her husband Randy, who stood in the aftermath of an early morning fire which destroyed the downtown Terrace building housing their business.
Leona’s face was streaked with tears as she and Randy chatted with concerned friends and surveyed the charred building, still being doused with water.
“Our lives changed today… It’s not just the store, but we had a lot of personal stuff in there, that’s what really gets me,” Leona said, describing a mounted elk’s head, outdoor recreation-related photos and memorabilia, as well as personal fishing rods and reels stored inside.
There was also a wall of fame, Leona said, which featured paper currencies from all around the world.
Also gone is the large mounted replica of a fish, which was placed outside the store and serviced as an iconic Lakelse Ave. image for years.
It was stored inside the building and the Murrays had been ready to sell it within the week.
Terrace fire chief John Klie said the first firefighters were called out at 5:31 a.m., and arrived on scene just four minutes later.
There were “flames shooting out five to ten feet [from the broken windows and doors],” said Klie. “Heavy, heavy smoke…”
Caption: Photo taken by Ashley Hart of the engulfed building and smoke at close to 6 a.m., just shortly after the building caught fire.
The moment firefighters arrived on scene and saw the fully engulfed building, they called the Thornhill Volunteer Fire Department in to help.
Klie says anytime there’s a commercial fire, they usually call in Thornhill as mutual aid, especially because that department has a ladder truck.
The city’s main fire engine, No. 11, arrived first on scene, parking at the centre of the intersection of Lakelse and Kalum St. and began dousing the front of the building.
Firefighters quickly began hooking up to a main water supply line as other equipment arrived.
Thornhill volunteer firefighters extended the ladder of their ladder truck high above the building, dousing the flames after the roof caved in.
Little explosions went off inside the store as air compressors, aerosol cans, and ammunition came in contact with the flames.
“The bullets did explode… it’s way different than being shot, but they will load and travel a distance,” said Klie, adding that that’s why firefighters and Terrace RCMP were keeping the public at a distance.
Scraps from ruptured aerosol cans also went flying, he said, adding that firefighters would be shielded by protective gear.
Caption: Even past 11 a.m. this morning, after more than five hours battling the flames, firefighters continued to hose the building as they struggled to reach a few tucked away smoldering sections of the roof. Above are a few firefighters hosing a hot spot as they stood on the western part of the roof, unable to get above the fire because of mechanical issues that came up later in the morning with the Thornhill ladder truck.
As is standard with fires, a B.C. Ambulance unit was on hand and police cordoned off the surrounding block.
Klie says the fire seems to have started at the front of the store, based on the damage, but it’s too early to name a cause.
“It’s so hard to tell… too hard to say at this time,” he said.
No one was injured in the blaze and the owners did have insurance on the two-storey building, which was 98 years old and housed the sporting-goods store downstairs, and storage upstairs.
Caption below: Neighbouring store owners are also facing concerns about flooding and smoke damage in the aftermath of the destructive blaze.