Future uncertain for businesses in building damaged by massive fire
Published Thursday, December 27, 2012 7:20PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, December 27, 2012 7:23PM MST
While fire and police investigators work to determine the cause of a fire that caused millions in damages, business owners are still waiting to see the full extent of the damage.
The fire started at about 2 a.m. on Christmas Day and left a total of eight businesses either damaged or destroyed in the $12 million blaze.
While one of the businesses, a Bonanza Restaurant, was completely destroyed – the future for many of the rest still isn’t clear.
Dwayne Sawchuk owns the Belvedere Sports Excellence store, which operates out of the strip mall affected in the blaze.
“My heart just sank, I had no idea,” Sawchuk said Thursday. “It was unbearable.”
The business has been family-run since his father started it in 1976 – Sawchuk took over and moved the store to its current location four years ago.
While the building where the store is remains standing, Sawchuk said there’s still a lot of damage.
“The front corner of the store, the roof came down,” Sawchuk said. “It’s probably taken out 25 percent of the building; the rest of the inventory doesn’t look all that bad.”
As for some of the other businesses, a Cora Restaurant spokesperson said it’s too early to say what will happen with the 30 employees of that location.
CTV News learned Thursday that Bonanza Buffet staff will be able to pick up shifts at the other location in the city.
Meanwhile, crews were still working on the scene Thursday, with heavy equipment digging through debris helping investigators narrow down a cause of the blaze.
Officials said an area of interest was found in the area where Bonanza used to stand.
“In part of the floor area, as well as the entrance to the kitchen, a lot of debris has fallen down,” Cpt. John Yaschuk with Edmonton Fire Investigations said. “We’re in the process of clearing it out.”
Police are also trying to find out who drove a truck into the restaurant – investigators said EPS members have started examining the vehicle.
By Thursday afternoon, enough debris was cleared from the rubble to allow a dog on the scene, to search for signs of any accelerants that could have been used.
Officials expect the on-scene investigations to be finished by Friday morning.
It’s not clear if the entire building will have to be demolished.
With files from Amanda Anderson