Manitoba

Gypsy's Bakery in Churchill burns to the ground

One of Churchill's most prominent restaurants caught fire Sunday and the town's mayor says it's a total loss.

Prominent casual restaurant caught fire Sunday morning

Fire crews put out hot spots at the burned-out shell that was Gypsy's Bakery Sunday morning. (Submitted by Leroy Whitmore)

One of Churchill's most prominent restaurants caught fire Sunday and the town's mayor says it's a total loss.

Mayor Mike Spence said Churchill's volunteer fire department was called to Gypsy's Bakery just after 12:30 a.m. Sunday. 

Churchill Fire Chief Leroy Whitmore said crews were still putting out hot spots Sunday morning at 8 a.m.

"There was heavy smoke and visible flames, coming through the rear of the roof," said Whitmore. 

Crews tried about half a dozen times to put out the flames inside, but eventually were forced into a defensive position and the decision was made to knock the building down in order to protect staff housing nearby, he said.

Gypsy's Cafe & Bakery owner Tony DaSilva. (Marcy Markusa/CBC)

"Due to the extent of the damage and the fire suppression efforts, the cause of the blaze is pretty much impossible to determine, now," said Whitmore.

Eleven volunteers fought the fire through the night, said Whitmore. No one was inside the business at the time, and no one was hurt.

Gypsy's Bakery was the town's only full-service bakery and had been in business for more than 25 years, according to their website.

People in Churchill started expressing their loss on social media Sunday morning.

"It's a great loss to our community," said Spence. "The De Silva family, Tony and Helen, provided great food and great ambiance."

Whitmore said the restaurant was an iconic community gathering spot.

"I remember going there as a child, taking my children there, pretty much everybody in Churchill. It was almost like a landmark to Churchill," he said. 

"Whenever we had an extended fire call in the past, they used to bring us food and hot chocolate, they were always good to the fire department.

"It happened to one of the nicest families in Churchill … it's a real sad sight to see."

Once all the hot spots are out, clean-up efforts will begin, said Whitmore.

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