British Columbia

Terrace, B.C. fire rips through downtown building

The rubble smoulders in downtown Terrace, B.C. after an early Thursday morning fire at the corner of Kalum Street and Lakelse Avenue. Fire crews arrived to find smoke and flames billowing from the two-storey building.

'Basically, it was a defensive fire fight,' says Fire Chief John Klie

Crews battled the early Thursday morning blaze in Terrace, B.C. (Matt Kawei/Eye4nature Photography & Communications)

It was early Thursday morning when Matt Kawei woke up to what he described as soft knocks coming from his Terrace, B.C. apartment door. "I didn't really take notice at first," he said.

"Another 10 minutes later, there was a loud knock like someone trying to break the door down."

It was the RCMP to warn Kawei and his family that a fire was burning nearby. They had to leave immediately.

The Terrace Fire Department responded to a building at Kalum Street and Lakelse Avenue, home to a fishing and hunting store called Northcoast Anglers.

When crews arrived just after 5:35 a.m., they saw smoke billowing from the two-storey building.

Fire quickly spread 

"It was basically a defensive fire fight," said Fire Chief John Klie. "This was a fish and tackle building. They had clothing, they had life jackets, they had ammunition."

He said the fire quickly spread from the first floor, to the second floor, right through the roof.

The fire so was so big he enlisted the help of the volunteer fire department from the neighbouring community of Thornhill. 

Firefighters from both Terrace and Thornhill, B.C. responded. (Terrace Fire Department)

Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc says the city has been in touch with the owners of the store. "They're quite devastated because, I mean, who wouldn't be?" Leclerc asked. 

"I mean that's part of your world having your business, then all of a sudden it's there one day and it's gone the next."

Leclerc says the business was frequented by locals and people driving by. "For anybody who ever came as a tourist to Terrace, they always had this great big salmon hanging outside the store."

'Smells ... like plastic burning'

Kawei and his family were permitted back into their apartment building late Thursday afternoon. "It smells like burnt ... like plastic burning, and those types of smells."

Investigators will sift through the rubble to determine what caused the fire. (Matt Kawei/Eye4nature Photography & Communications)

He said others are less fortunate than him. "I saw the family and the owner moving things away. It's really bad in there."

A cause hasn't yet been determined but the RCMP and fire investigators will sift through the rubble. 

No one was injured in the blaze.


About the Author

Wil Fundal

Reporter/Editor

Wil Fundal is an award winning News and Current Affairs multimedia journalist in northern British Columbia. When they're not digging into a story, they sing as a tenor, and participates in community theatre productions.