A cornerstone of the Splatsin community sits dark and burned out.
Fire gutted the interior of the Super Save gas station at Highway 97A and Canyon Road at about 3 a.m. Monday.
“It’s been operating for more than 30 years and it’s the one thing that’s been a constant for employment and income,” said Chief Wayne Christian, of the Splatsin First Nation, which owns the business.
“It’s a real blow for the community.”
About 15 people worked at the station, which is also home to the Quilakwa Art Gallery, and Christian says it has played a critical role in providing youth with experience so they can pursue education or careers.
The band will consider its options for the site, but Christian hopes the gas station will be rebuilt.
“It’s an important part of our community,” he said.
Enderby volunteer firefighters were on scene shortly after receiving the report of a blaze.
“There was a lot of smoke and heat damage but the structure, we were able to save,” said Kevin Alstad, fire chief.
“The fire came through the roof at one point.”
It’s believed much of the merchandise inside the store was destroyed by smoke and water.
The fire began in a back room but a cause has not been determined at this time.
“At this point, it’s not suspicious,” said Alstad.
Also looking into the cause are WorkSafe B.C., the fire commissioner’s office and the RCMP.
While there is both gasoline and propane on site, there was no concern about the incident expanding in scope.
“They have automatic shut-downs and the fire was not near any tanks,” said Alstad, adding that the only challenge for the 17 firefighters was accessing the store. “The building is secure with bars on the windows and roll-shutters.”