By Lachlan Labere/Eagle Valley News
Mary Ann Metal is grateful for a good Samaritan whose selfless actions prevented her livelihood from going up in flames.
After catching a movie in Salmon Arm Saturday, David Lewis was heading back home that evening to Revelstoke. At around 10:30, as he was passing the Malakwa Supermarket, Lewis noticed flames emanating from the front porch. Lewis pulled off the Trans-Canada and into the supermarket’s parking lot. “It was going fast and hard – I got there, I guess minutes after it had been set,” says Lewis.
While driving in, Lewis says he considered going over to the neighbouring business, The Burner Bar and Grill, to grab a fire extinguisher, but it was closed. Sizing up the situation, Lewis reached down to grab onto the legs of the chair, the one part that wasn’t engulfed. He then ran about 10 feet and flung the flaming furniture into a puddle. Lewis then found a bucket and water and was able to deal with the building.
Metal, who owns the market with Julian Jankowski, says that if Lewis had come by maybe 10 minutes later, the pine-built supermarket wouldn’t be standing today.
“I even phoned him today and thanked him – he saved the store,” says Metal, who is also thankful to those who were driving ahead of Lewis and who called 911.
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Carl Vinet says a 61-year-old Malakwa man was arrested soon after the incident. Vinet says the suspect confessed to setting the fire, and police are recommending charges of arson, and possession of marijuana under 30 grams.
Vinet too is grateful for the Revelstoke resident’s timely arrival.
“If it wasn’t for that, within a matter of minutes, the building, which is a wooden structure, would most likely have burned to the ground,” says Vinet.
Earlier that day, Vinet attended a matter involving the suspect at the neighbouring business, the Burner.
He says the man was intoxicated and was refused service. This led to a minor altercation to which the police had not been called.
Metal says the suspect had come into her business, intoxicated, and was interested in buying a bicycle that her cousin was using. An agreement was made to sell him the bike, but she says he took the bike without paying. The bike was retrieved while the suspect was involved in an altercation at the Burner.
“I think he was so mad because he said it was his bicycle… he’s swearing, like, nasty swearing,” said Metal.
Vinet says the events of the afternoon are not relevant to the investigation into the fire, which remains ongoing.
Asked if he has any formal firefighter training, Lewis, a handyman by trade, said no, that he just did what came natural to him.