Firefighters appear to have control of a massive fire at a Fort Langley, B.C., grocery store, but are still trying to stop its spread to nearby buildings.
No one has been injured in the fire, which has caused about $3.5 million in damage.
Firefighters were called to the MarketPlace IGA supermarket at Glover Road and Mavis Avenue in the village of about 2,900 people on the south bank of the Fraser River at about 5:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday.
A passerby saw smoke coming out of the building in the heart of downtown Fort Langley. By the time firefighters arrived minutes later, the fire was burning out of control.
By about 10 a.m., the fire was under control but smoke continued to billow. Witnesses say crews continue to douse the building, which is gutted.
'Well, it's a special place. I call it home.' —Robert Lee, store co-owner
Robert Lee, who has owned the store with his brother since 1975, said it's tough to see it go.
"Well, it's a special place. I call it home, you know. My brother works seven days a week. And the people of Fort Langley are also very special and they supported us throughout the years. I think they're going to miss it just as much as we will."
By late in the morning, crews had also turned their attention to protecting several nearby structures — including a hardware store.
Jim Dyck, the hardware store's owner, said it has been an emotional morning.
"We're all kind of one big family and part of our family just burned to the ground, and it's the only real food staple place in Fort Langley, so it's gonna force people to go out of town for quite some time, by the looks of it."
Mark Forsythe, host of CBC Radio One's B.C. Almanac, was at the scene early Tuesday. He said white smoke was billowing hundreds of metres into the air.
Dozens of local residents gathered outside the building to watch the fire, including Diane Morrison, who works at Wendell's Bookstore and Cafe across the street.
"I am seeing flames licking into the night," she said.
"It is like huge, billowing smoke — [the flames are] 25 feet high, 30 feet high, there's smoke coming out from every crevice … the firemen were just smashing all the windows. It is craziness, nothing like I've ever seen."
The cause of the blaze has not been determined.