Crews have begun to clean up, after a major blaze in downtown Vernon destroyed six local businesses.
According to Fire Chief David Lind, crews were called around 2:20 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4 to the 2800 block of 30th Street.
“The fire was located on the south wall, and as crews located it, they quickly determined that the fire started from outside the structure,” said Lind. “It was filled with heavy, thick smoke and they had to back out at that point and set up for a defensive attack.”
The fire is currently under investigation by Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and is deemed suspicious in nature.
“While the fire department was battling the fire, our officers canvased the area for potential witnesses or video surveillance of the incident,” said Cpl. Tania Finn, media relations officer. “Based on information we learned at the scene, police are treating the fire as suspicious.”
There were no injuries, as a single occupant and a dog were able to escape. The sheer size of the fire required the services of BC Ambulance Services, City of Vernon Operations and the Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Department.
“At the peak of the event, we had three aerial devices on the fire,” Lind said. “Along with two fire engines and 25 to 27 firefighters.”
Among the lost businesses include Vernon Centre Pawn, The Cauldron Metaphysical Shop, Eunike Consignment, Jax & King Salon, Classy Canine Grooming and The Okanagan Eatery.
“This is a big impact on the business owners in the community,” Lind explained. “You are dealing with several local businesses who add tremendous value to our community, so our hearts are definitely with these folks.”
The abutting North Okanagan Friendship Society was spared from the damage thanks to a firewall.
If you have any information regarding the fire, contact Const. Josh Baron at the non-emergency line of 250-545-7171. Or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or leaving a tip online at nokscrimestoppers.com.