Fire destroys part of Moose Jaw strip mall
The Moose Jaw Fire Department is investigating a fire that engulfed a local strip mall on Thursday night.
Fire crews were dispatched to the mall, located on the 300 block of Thatcher Drive, at approximately 7:30 p.m. CST. Eighteen firefighters battled for seven hours, until around 2:30 a.m CST Friday.
The cause of the fire remains unknown.
Mike Russell, Moose Jaw Deputy Fire Chief said no one was hurt.
"That was the one good part about last night," Russell told CBC News.
" All occupants got out and nobody was injured while fighting the fire on the fire department side."
WATCH | Fire destroys part of Moose Jaw strip mall:
The fire began in an aisle of one of the strip mall's businesses, according to Russell.
"The employee was trying to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher, but was unable to," Russell said.
Russell said firefighters were able to save two of the businesses to the east — but the centre and western parts of the mall were destroyed.
Those parts were occupied by Dollar Tree and Bulk Barn.
"It's just the nature of the beast, we were working in very cold elements, and water and cold don't mix," Russell said. "We had wind that was pushing fire throughout the occupancy and this was a large fire in a good size strip mall."
Fire investigators returned to the scene Friday morning.
"We'll be going off what staff and patrons can tell us they saw," Russell said. "We'll be doing lots of canvassing and interviewing people around the area."
'You could feel the heat across the parking lot': witness
William Stevens says he was always intrigued watching fire trucks zoom along Main Street by his childhood house back in the 1970s. That interest has continued into his adulthood, as he chases fires around Moose Jaw to document them.
Stevens arrived at the strip mall just after the first engine. He said it was one of the biggest fires he's ever seen.
"By the time two trucks showed up three to four minutes afterwards, the roof of the Dollar Tree was fully gone, lit up like a roman candle," Stevens said. "Before you know it the Dollar Tree inside was fully involved, the fire jumped across to the Bulk Barn and the rest is history.
"It spread real fast, real hot, intense. I could feel the heat across the parking lot."
Stevens said many people in Moose Jaw are shocked by the fire.
"A lot of people at the site at the time were shocked, stunned and couldn't believe what was happening," Stevens said.
"Lots of people are commenting that we've lost our best dollar store, lots of comments — including from my wife — about losing the Bulk Barn, which is one of her favourite places to shop."