A country store that had been known as a community hub in the Burns Lake area for decades and provided relief during the 2018 wildfire season burned down Wednesday morning.
Witnesses say the Grassy Plains Country Store, located about 245 kilometres west of Prince George, burned to the ground due to a problem in the kitchen.
Catherine van Tine Marcinek says she and her daughter were headed to work when they saw the smoke from nearly two kilometres away.
"There were flames coming out of the roof, out of the vent above their grill," she said. "We pulled over and started flying around there and making sure there was nobody in that building."
Marcinek, who works for the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, says a community effort managed to save the meat shop next door.
"Before long, there were dozens of locals there. People started showing up with pumps and trailers with water tanks on the back."
Store was a community hub during wildfires
Residents say that as one of only two stores on the southside of the community, the destruction of the Grassy Plains Country Store is a huge loss.
This past summer, owners Gary and Fayth Martin opened the doors of their store to those affected by the devastating wildfires.
"They were lifesavers all throughout the whole horrendous fire season," said local Mike Robertson. "Every night the family would all get together, and they would cook huge meals for anybody that needed it from local residents to firefighters."
Marcinek says the family even left a cooler outside where anyone could grab a free drink.
She says Gary Martin was at the scene Wednesday and she had a chance to talk to him.
"We spoke and we hugged and we cried."
Now Marcinek says she expects the Southside community will come together to help the family recover from the loss.
"My daughter's talking about a fundraiser already. They helped so much during the wildfires this summer and now it's time that we help them."