A family’s aspirations have been left in a pile of twisted metal and blackened timber.
Fire roared through Nap’s Laundromat and Nap’s Vacuums on Vernon Street in Lumby at about 8:30 p.m. Monday.
“It’s pretty intense,” said Terilyn Skoyen as smoke continued to hang over the scene Tuesday morning.
“This was mom and dad’s life.”
Skoyen’s parents — Larry and Florence — moved to Lumby 20 years ago and opened the business.
Besides being a source of income, the family lived in the building for many years.
The sudden loss has hit them hard.
“They’re in shock — lost,” said Skoyen of her parents as she fought back tears.
Particularly difficult to accept is the fact that nothing appeared to be wrong when the business closed for the night at 8 p.m. Monday. Within half-an-hour, alarms were ringing.
“My dog was kicking up a fuss and my son comes downstairs and says the building across the street is on fire,” said Mike Blain, a resident who lives in a nearby home.
“The fire was going up the stairs and the balcony was engulfed in flames.”
The occupant of one apartment in the structure was able to escape while the tenant in the second apartment was not home.
Firefighters were soon on scene, but the magnitude of the blaze limited their ability to save Nap’s.
“There were a lot of flames coming out of the back end — huge flames. It was endangering the gas meter,” said Tony Clayton, Lumby fire chief.
“The first priority was cooling down the gas meter and then protecting the exposures.”
There was a concern the blaze would spread to another building immediately adjacent to Nap’s.
“It (fire) was within two feet of that building at the front,” said Clayton.
Firefighters took over the Shell station parking lot as a staging area and Vernon Street (Highway 6) was shut down to through traffic.
Assistance was called in from the Coldstream, Lavington and BX fire departments.
“We had to rotate the guys to keep them warm,” said Clayton of the frigid overnight temperatures.
“Our air packs were freezing up.”
The torrent of water coming out of hoses also froze, creating an eerie but spectacular landscape as ice covered trees and power lines.
It took until about 1 a.m. before the fire was brought under control and then crews remained on the scene until mid-morning tackling hot spots.
An excavator was also brought in to knock down unstable walls that posed a threat to emergency crews.
It’s believed the fire originated in the middle or rear section of the structure but a cause had not been determined as of press time.
The volume of debris — including charred washers and dryers and disfigured laundry baskets — is proving challenging for investigators.
“My guys are on their hands and knees digging in there. They’re looking for anything,” said Clayton.
Skoyen’s parents are insured but she isn’t sure if they will rebuild.
“I don’t even know what to think. I’m numb watching my parents’ life go up in smoke,” she said.