'We're kind of in limbo': 500 people could be without food hampers after GM Plant fire

Up to 500 people could go without a food hamper on Wednesday, the busiest day for Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger, after a Tuesday night blaze ravaged the city's GM Plant.

Wednesday is busiest day for Regina child hunger group

The vehicles were destroyed by the fire. (Alec Salloum/CBC)

Regina's historic GM Plant was ravaged by fire on Tuesday night — now businesses and organizations are dealing with the aftermath of the damages.

"We're kind of in limbo, which is not a very good feeling when you want to be organized and you know you have a lot of people relying on your food delivery," said Dana Folkersen, executive director of Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger. 

REACH has storage and office space in the building. The non-profit organization delivers food baskets to those in need and assists food insecure people in Regina.

 Folkersen said Wednesday is typically their busiest day and 500 people likely won't be receiving food hampers today. The organization's clientele ranges in age from three to 100 years old. 

Folkersen said up to 500 people could go without a food hamper on Wednesday, their busiest day of the week. (Abby Schneider/CBC)

The fire at Regina's historic GM plant had seven fire crews working through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. The department was called to the scene on Winnipeg Street at approximately 9:48 p.m. CST.

"There's kind of this light and I look over and there's just flames pluming up from — it looked like the building directly north of us," said Devin Zerr.

Zerr saw the blazing fire from the nearby CJTR studio as he was getting ready to host a program. He said he and the production coordinator at the studio left the building due to safety concerns.

"You could hear an explosion every couple minutes from gas tanks, I guess, were just going off in there," said Zerr.

The fire was contained to the central area of the building, near the intersection of Winnipeg Street and Seventh Avenue, the department said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Much of the damage done to their offices is water damage, according to Folkersen, but the full scope of the damage is not yet known. 

"We've been on the phone all morning getting ahold of people letting them know that it's not happening today," said Folkersen. 

"We don't anticipate that we'll be up and running before next week."

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      Associates and partners of REACH have offered assistance following the fire. Since power to the building is cut, there was concern over spoilage to their current stocks. 

      Folkersen says the Regina Food Bank has offered fridge and freezer space while REACH deals with damages.

      "We didn't know what we would walk into this morning, so even though it's not nice it was almost a relief that it was still here," said Folkersen of the office.

      The damage done

      The building used to house the collection of the Regina Plains Civic Museum, but no longer does. According to Rob Deglau, president of the museum, they moved their collection out of the building a few years ago. 

      Various organizations are housed within the building, including Regina Minor Hockey, Regina Minor Football and Ringette Regina. 

      A city official said the section of the building impacted by the fire is not on the Heritage Holding Bylaw.

      At approximately 6:45 a.m., the fire department had re-opened the street to the public.

      Fire Chief Layne Jackson said the power has been cut to the building because it poses a risk to fire crews. He could not say when not power would be restored. 

      "We will be working with SaskPower to get the power back on, when appropriate," he said.

      No injuries were reported in the fire.

      There is no estimate to the value of the damage caused.