The rural community of Big Lake in the Cariboo lost its only store to a fire that began Sunday evening, March 14.
Members of the Big Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. responded after a call came in at 10:20 p.m.
“By the time we arrived it was all through the attic,” Captain Ray Bruneski told the Tribune Monday.
A full crew of 14 firefighters with four trucks poured 23,000 gallons of water on the fire but couldn’t stop it, he added.
Hoses were tapped into the hydrant at the lake and a hydrant at the hall and they kept a bladder full nearby.
“We stayed until about 3:30 a.m. and our Chief Joel and Virginia stayed to monitor because the fire kept flaring up,” he said.
Bruneski said the store, which housed the post office, was completely destroyed, however, they saved the gas station with its pumps and propane tanks.
With temperatures dropping down to -9C the hoses kept freezing at the nozzle and jamming and at some intervals crew members took the hoses back to the hall to thaw them.
He said it is devastating to the community yet they are grateful no one was injured.
“It is a huge loss.”
The store was built in 1985 by the Harder family and then purchased seven years ago by Dave and Penny Carpenter.
Bruneski said the Carpenters had done lots of renovations to the store, with a new layout, and brought the post office inside.
“We are a close community and really lean on each other,” he said. “We want to recognize our chief too. He was there all night and provided me with these details for the interview.”
A fire inspector will be arriving to try and determine what caused the fire and in the meantime the community will be looking at where to house a temporary post office.
All of the mail in the boxes would have been destroyed as well.
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