Edmonton Fire Rescue have determined the blaze that destroyed the Bissell Centre’s temporary Thrift Shoppe Saturday evening and caused nearly $1 million in damage was not a case of arson.
Investigators completed an assessment of the scene Monday and concluded the fire started in the ceiling space on the north side of the building. While they could not determine the exact cause of the fire, they did say it was not deliberately set.
The damage estimate is pegged at $950,000.
This is the second time a fire has ravaged the Bissell Centre Thrift Shoppe in less than a year.
“It kind of leaves a lot of people in the street with their heads hung low because of the situation, which is too bad for them,” said Mike Dalpe, who worked across the street from the Bissell Centre’s temporary location.
An interim storage unit is now situated south of the Bissell Centre East Building located at 10527 96th Street. Staff and volunteers will be on hand accepting donations daily beginning Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The Bissell Centre’s original location at 118th Avenue and 99th Street was destroyed in a fire in September 2013.
Recovery plan on its way
Mayor Don Iveson said he has asked the city Community Service department to step in and help the Bissell Centre in its recovery.
“It’s tragic what’s happened there now for the second time,” he said. “Certainly we will want to work with them to get them back on their feet. They provide a really important service to the community, so we’ll be working with them closely.”
The Bissell Centre staff met Monday to come up with a recovery plan to get the organization back up and running. Their new location is not set to open for another two months.
“Our big priority is getting back up and running,” said Devin Komarniski, communications manager for the Bissell Centre. “There are many low income families who rely on us for clothing and the homeless community that we give hundreds of articles of clothing each month for free.”
The September fire had caused $650,000 in damage and forced the store to lay off several staff members — which makes it that much harder on the current Bissell Centre staff, said Komarniski.
“They are of course devastated,” he said. “They’ve been through this already in September. We’re just trying to take care of them and minimize the possibility of lay offs.”
The thirteen staff members have been offered counselling to alleviate the stress of yet another fire.