A spectacular fire that lit up the night sky over Midland Bay completely destroyed a Home Building Centre storage building on Tuesday.
Owner Kevin Mateff said between $75,000 and $100,000 worth of construction materials was lost, including plywood, chipboard, some roofing products, concrete mixes and more. The total damage was estimated at $400,000.
Mateff was working late at his Fourth Street store around 8:15 p.m. when he received a phone call notifying him of the fire. He dashed over immediately, but there was nothing to do but watch the flames tear through the roof and destroy the building.
“It was pretty chaotic,” he said, noting a lot of people had gathered to watch the dramatic scene unfold. “There were flames from the roof of the whole building. It was basically fully engulfed.”
The Midland Fire Department responded around 8 p.m. with five trucks and about 25 firefighters. When they arrived, smoke could be seen pouring from the building.
After briefly attempting an aggressive interior attack, crews pulled back due to heavy fire conditions and fears the structure would collapse.
Due to the significant damage, fire Chief Kevin Foster said investigators have been unable to determine the cause of the blaze.
“I don’t think we’ll ever know,” Mateff said. “Talking to the fire department (Wednesday) morning, I really don’t think there’s much hope for finding out. The building, there’s so much destruction there.”
The last person to leave the building was an employee at around 3 p.m., he said.
As far as the impact on business, Mateff said the building was leased and the contents fully insured. In the meantime, the store remains open.
“It has an impact on our inventory,” he said, “but from a customer point of view, it’s going to be fairly seamless.”
He’s already had offers from other businesses – some of them competitors – offering warehouse space or even materials.
“We certainly have a pretty good support system in place from different stores,” he said. “I’d like to thank people for their generous support.”
No injuries were reported in the blaze. Firefighters remained on the scene until about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“It was an incredibly long and challenging fire for the firefighters,” Foster stated in a press release. “They deserve great praise for their hard work and tenacity throughout what was a very stubborn fire.”