Fire guts Enderby heritage building
It was built in 1911, originally home to the Enderby Opera House which staged its first production at Christmas of that same year.
The 100-year-old two-storey Enderby heritage building in the 700 block of Cliff Avenue was reduced to charred rubble Sunday after a fire broke out in the vacated building at around 2 a.m.
“This is a big part of our town’s history, and it’s very, very, very sad to see,” said Joan Cowan, curator of the Enderby Museum, who gathered to watch a handful of Enderby Fire Department firefighters mop up the blaze just after noon Sunday.
Cowan said the opera house was built by Samuel Polson and was used strictly for opera, plays, musical, choirs and local choirs for the remainder of its first decade.
By the 1920, opera was no longer popular and the building became known as The Coliseum, said Cowan, housing silent movies until Enderby opened a regular theatre to show talking pictures.
The Knights of Pythias service club took over the structure and used it as a community hall and meeting place for a number of years before it became an electronics outlet in the 1950s, remaining as such for close to 30 years.
Greyhound Bus Service was added to the building and it remained that way up until about three or four years ago.
The bottom half of the building was used for commercial purposes and the top half was an apartment. Both were vacant at the time of the fire, which remains under investigation.
Cowan said a new, unknown owner bought the building in 2007, but it had remained vacant.
Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP said there had been issues with squatters in the facility over the years but the building was believed to have been empty at the time of the fire.
Smoke from Sunday morning’s fire could be seen all around the city.
“I was delivering Morning Stars at around 6:30 and 7 a.m. up on Red Basket hill, and I saw the smoke coming straight up from a building,” said Corey Skead, 20. “For a second I thought it was the IGA (grocery store) because it’s pretty much kitty-corner from Greyhound. I walked down to Red Basket and the credit union, and saw flames shooting out of the building.”
Witnesses reported the fire was coming out the second level of the building. Enderby fire chief Kevin Alstad said the blaze started at the southeast corner of the building, and told RCMP nobody was found amid the debris.
Alstad said two roommates in an adjoining apartment phoned in the report of the fire.
An excavator was brought to the scene to help knock in the walls of the building, as it was deemed dangerous and at risk of falling down towards the street and a side alley.
The machine was also used to go through the debris.
Alstad said the cause of the fire remains undetermined due to severe damage to the structure, and the file is still being investigated.