- Buildings a total loss
- Demolition of brick shell begins
- Historic mural lost
After a major fire destroyed two buildings on Moose Jaw's historic High Street Wednesday night, demolition equipment began the next morning to knock down at least one of the buildings.
Emergency crews were called to 71 High Street West around 10:20 p.m. CST and arrived to find smoke pouring out of one building. A short time later it was engulfed in flames and the second brick building followed.
Fire crews were still on the scene the next morning, spraying water on hot spots as local residents looked on.
"The streets are blocked off, the building's a total loss," Moose Jaw Fire Chief Rod Montgomery told CBC News.
At least four businesses, including a restaurant, a photo shop and two clothing stores have been destroyed and the people who lived above them have lost their homes and belongings.
Police said everybody got out of the buildings safely. The Red Cross and Salvation Army were on the scene throughout the night, helping the people who are homeless.
A spokesman for the Salvation Army said 15 to 20 people were helped, but others might have gone off on their own to find shelter with family or friends. Fire officials later said 25 people were forced out of their homes by the blaze.
Pat Litzenberger, who witnessed the fire, said he hopes people will donate to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross to help the victims out.
"It's devastating," he said. "I felt so bad for the people who were living in that structure. What do they do today?"
One of the buildings featured a well-known mural on its exterior wall, a feature of Moose Jaw's historic downtown.
Fire officials said High Street West would be closed for most of the day today, from Main Street to 2nd Avenue Northwest.
1st Avenue from Manitoba Street to High Street will also be closed most of the day.
There was no immediate word on what might have caused the fire.
RAW VIDEO: Wrecking crew knocks down buildings destroyed by fire (Sabeen Ahmed/CBC))