Log cabin skyscraper goes up in smoke

A sign on the door of Steve Marada's antique shop still says, "opening soon." But a fire in the building and recent drug charges have stopped his plans short.

A sign on the door of Steve Marada’s antique shop still says, “opening soon.”

But a fire in the building and recent drug charges have stopped his plans short.

Wednesday evening the RCMP arrived at Marada’s rented apartment in the two-storey log cabin skyscraper building on Hanson Street.

They had a search warrant and apprehended an ounce of cocaine, a quarter pound of marijuana and $1,400 in cash.

Seven hours later, at around 2 a.m., RCMP officers patrolling the downtown area smelled smoke in the air.

Following the smell, they discovered the roof of Marada’s apartment on fire and called fire fighters for backup.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said RCMP Sgt. Don Rogers.

But Marada believes the fire was caused by RCMP officers.

“When the officers were upstairs they threw all my clothes against the baseboard heater. That’s what made everything go up in flames,” said Marada from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre this morning.

Marada had plans to open Safyre’s, an antique store below his apartment, during Rendezvous week.

The store, named after his daughter, was crammed full of vintage toys and antiques he had been collecting since he was a young boy.

Marada was particularly interested in buying up Yukon memorabilia that American antique dealers had snapped up and sold to southerners in the States.

A couple years ago, Marada and a friend found a pair of faded lifejackets for sale on eBay that once belonged to the S.S. Keno and S.S. Klondike.

“We wanted everything back in the Yukon so we could sell them back to Yukoners. We want to keep these antiques in the territory,” he said in an interview two weeks ago.

That includes items such as a calendar published by Matthew’s General Store in 1890, a mastodon tusk he bought from a Dawson City miner and hundreds of ornate glass bottles he dug up from Yukon riverbanks.

He was especially interested in collecting original poison bottles, some of which were worth hundreds of dollars.

His store was also filled with ‘50s novelty toys, comics and cult books.

Marada had so many antiques he had to use his upstairs apartment as storage.

That was where he stored a unique glass bottle that he says was worth $3,700, and a Turkish stamp collection of his mother’s he called “priceless.”

“Apparently, everything I own is waterlogged and smoke-filled,” said Marada on Friday.

There is no word from RCMP on the potential cost of the damage.

Calling himself a “shy” man and someone who didn’t mix well with the public, Marada was hoping the store would open a new chapter in his life.

He freely admitted that he had criminal charges in the past and that the store was one of the few jobs in town that didn’t require him to have a clean record.

He had hoped that the store, tucked inside of one of the Yukon’s most-photographed buildings, would draw people to his front door.

“Now my life plans have been destroyed by the RCMP,” he said.

The double-decker and three-storey cabin skyscrapers were built in 1949 by prospector Martin Berrigan at the age of 78, according to an article by the MacBride Museum.

Berrigan hand-cut the logs, weighing in at 200 kilograms each, and devised his own pulley system to stack the logs on top of each other.

In 2000, the log cabin skyscrapers were designated an official municipal historic site.

The three-storey skyscraper wasn’t affected in Thursday morning’s fire.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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