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Smoke damage from outside fire forces temporary closure at Salmon Arm’s Salmar Grand Theatre

Theatre 2 closed for at least three days for restoration work

A theatre at the Salmar Grand will be temporarily closed due to smoke odour damage from a fire lit outside the building.

Salmar Cinemas general manager Jodi Jones said she received a call about the fire at 3:30 a.m. on Friday, March 31. The Salmon Arm Fire Department responded to the fire burning at the bottom of a ramp at the back of the building.

“Homeless people lit a fire in the back of our theatre two and projection room exit door,” said Jones. “We now have to shut Theatre 2 down again, because there’s so much smoke odour damage that we have to get a restoration company in…

“It was plastic burning so you can imagine the stench in the building.”

Jones said smoke odour reached theatre two, the projection room and back hallway. She expects the work will take at least three days and will likely cost thousands of dollars.

“It’s just frustrating, Covid knocked us down so much… and we had to shut our theatre down previously for a roof leak, and now we’re dealing with this – it just seems like one thing after another,” said Jones.

Security video footage of what appears to be two individuals tending the fire, and an explanation of the temporary closure, were shared on the Salmar’s Facebook page around 1 p.m. on Friday, March 31. Because there’s an open investigation, Jones said she called police first before posting the video, which shows two people at the fire.

“They do know who it is and they told me to go ahead,” said Jones, explaining the full video shows individuals trying to build the fire, them standing around it for a minute or so after it gets going, and when the smoke detectors go off, “you can see them just slowly saunter away.”

Jones said the Salmar board and staff have seen people squatting on Salmar Grand property for quite a while now. She said over the past month or so she’s given two people notice to vacate the property.

“There is a lot of drug paraphernalia – We do daily walk abouts at the theatre picking up garbage and drug paraphernalia,” said Jones, stressing this is a concern for customers and staff. “We have to go outside every night to take stuff outside to our bins, there’s people back there, it’s getting a little scary.”

Jones said she knows other businesses in town are dealing with similar challenges, and the post was shared on Facebook to let people know what’s happening.

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