The Tags convenience store in Watson Lake was destroyed by fire early Wednesday morning.
The fire department got the call shortly before 5 a.m., but by the time firefighters arrived on scene the building was completely engulfed in flames, said Richard Durocher, who pulls double duty as Watson Lake’s mayor and acting fire chief.
“We fought it for most of the day,” he said. “It was one of those fires where the building was gutted and it was a search for all these little corners where embers were.”
The building was originally built with cedar shingles but later clad with sheet metal. That made the fire unusually tricky to put out, said Durocher.
“Everything gets hidden in the walls and there were a couple spots that were a bit difficult,” he said. “We had to tear away at stuff, move inventory, so we could tear into the wall and find these little flash fires.”
By three in the afternoon the blaze was out, but a fire crew remained on scene until 8 p.m. to make sure it stayed that way. It didn’t.
Firefighters ended up getting called back by the RCMP later that night after it flared back up.
“We got a wind that came up last night and was helping fuel a couple of spots in the wall that were starting to light up again, so we had guys there all night putting out spot fires,” said Durocher.
The store was closed at the time of the fire.
The employee who was scheduled to open up that morning arrived on the scene shortly before the fire department.
“It was a shock for her to see the place ablaze,” said Durocher.
No injuries were reported, or other buildings damaged by the fire.
The fire department even managed to keep the blaze from spreading to the store’s gas pumps.
The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, said Sgt. Cam Lockwood of the Watson Lake RCMP.
“It’s currently under investigation and once the fire marshal’s done we’ll have more details,” he said.
The store, which had been in operation since the ‘80s, had a big role in the community, said Durocher.
“It was a convenience store that pretty much provided everything that anybody would want from gas, to groceries, to knick-knacks,” he said. “It also served as a restaurant and a gathering place for people to have coffee in the morning … It’s going to be missed.”
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