Fire destroys Bella Bella's only grocery store
The remote West Coast community is 6 hours from the nearest grocery store now
A remote First Nations community on B.C.'s northwest coast will be short on supplies after a fire destroyed the only grocery store in the area.
The fire broke out between 2 and 4 a.m. PT Friday morning at the band store in Bella Bella, about 150 kilometres north of Port Hardy.
No one was injured, but the fire spread quickly and destroyed the 35-year-old building, which also housed a post office, liquor store and a non-profit organization.
Marilyn Slett, chief councillor of the Heiltsuk First Nation, said up to 100 people flooded into the street to try and save the store.
Bella Bella RCMP were forced to evacuate a local hospital and several residents in the area because the store was located close to several gas and diesel tanks at the local gas bar.
Bella Bella has a population of about 2,000 people, but the community also serves as a hub for the region.
Slett says their biggest concern is getting supplies.
"You know, we're quite remote," she said. "We need to work with BC Ferries, and the airline services that come through here, and you know, a local barge, to see how we can provide grocery services to our community. That's one of our major concerns right now."
Slett says there is a small store located across the channel, but it's not large enough to sustain the community.
The next closest grocery store is in Port Hardy, which is more than six hours away by ferry.
The community is looking at setting up a temporary store in a local church.