Fire claims two historic buildings in downtown Williams Lake

Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photo
Patrick Davies photo
Angie Mindus photo
Patrick Davies photo
New World Coffee and Tea House owner Sue Lachance. Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photo
Patrick Davies photo

Two historic buildings in downtown Williams Lake have been destroyed by a fire that broke out in the early morning Friday, Sept. 20.

Fire crews were called at about 5:30 a.m. to the location of Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge on Oliver Street, which has been the location of multiple previous arson attempts in the last year.

By 6 a.m. the building was fully engulfed and the roof of the building had collapsed onto the sidewalk. A team of about 25 firefighters from the Williams Lake Fire Department battled the fire hard, hitting it with water from several fronts, in an attempt to stop the blaze from spreading.

Deputy Fire Chief Rob Warnock of the WLFD told the Tribune at about 6:15 a.m. no one was injured in the blaze.

Thick black smoke continued to billow from the building as residents made their way to work Friday morning. Firefighters extended their taped off section to close off Mackenzie Avenue at the foot of Oliver Street just after 9 a.m. when it became evident that the fire was about to spread to New World Coffee and Tea House next door.

By 9:30 a.m. flames could be seen shooting out of the roof structure at the back of the New World as a excavator arrived on scene and tore down the beloved coffee shop to save the others, which included the barber shop, a tattoo parlor, cell phone repair shop and Ming’s Palace Chinese restaurant.

By 10:30 a.m. members of the Wildwood and 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Departments arrived to assist with the structure fires and an air quality advisory was issued due to the thick smoke over the city.

The Tribune caught up with New World Coffee and Tea House owner Sue Lachance on scene, who was coming to grips with the loss.

“We’re sad, but everyone’s safe and that’s the main thing,” said Lachance, who owns the popular shop with her partner Brice O’Neill. “The fire department has been amazing. They did everything they could. They pressurized our building. It looked really positive for a bit … but unfortunately the fire breached the walls.”

The building was built in the late 1930s by the Borkowski brothers, Lachance said, noting the original building was also built on to a couple more times after that.

“It’s had a long, long history of different businesses being in there,” she said.

Lachance and O’Neill completely renovated the building before opening New World Coffee and Tea House and while doing so found many historical treasures that they displayed in the café which were lost in the fire.

“Whenever an historic building like this goes it is always sad because a piece of history goes with it.”

As Lachance spoke, many friends and customers offered their condolences, adding how much they loved the coffee shop.

Lachance told the Tribune they plan to rebuild.

Williams Lake Fire Chief Erick Peterson told the Tribune when they arrived on scene at 5:30 a.m. they observed smoke and flames coming from the roof at the front of Diamonds and Dust.

Peterson said he cannot speculate at this point the cause of the fire, however, residents can expect that section of Oliver Street to be closed for a few days while fire investigators secure and examine evidence to determine the cause.

Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley, officer in charge of the detachment, said the RCMP are working with the WLFD to investigate the fire.

Peterson confirmed Diamonds and Dust and New World are complete losses, while the barber shop suffered severe water damage, along with the rest of the buildings downhill of the fire.

“All these buildings are connected in one way or another,” he said of the historic block.

Even Caribou Ski Source for Sports, he said, received water damage due to the amount of water they had to use to protect the building from the fire.

Peterson wanted to thank all emergency responders who assisted at the scene, including the Wildwood and 150 Mile fire departments, EHS and RCMP.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Helicopter used to replace Hangman Springs infrastructure

Quesnel Cross Country Motorcycle club used grant money to replace two bridges on trails

Early-morning drier fire quickly extinguished in Quesnel

West Fraser MDF Plant fire swiftly put out by employees

Quesnel’s first cannabis retail store open for business

Cariboo Cannabis on McLean Street is open seven days a week

Great turnout for 2019 Slam Jam/Ride for Ryley in Quesnel

Three-year-old Hunter Dillabough was the youngest-ever rider and won first in beginner skateboard

Snow making equipment means longer season for Quesnel x-country skiers

Cariboo Ski Touring Club is hoping temp drops to test out new gear at Hallis Lake

YouTube video of Revelstoke grizzly bear goes viral

Why did the grizzly bear cross the railway tracks?

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

B.C. RCMP officer suing the force for malicious prosecution

Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth cleared of wrongdoing after misconduct hearing

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations court battle against RioTinto Alcan to start next week

Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations are taking Rio Tinto Alcan to court over their functioning of the Kenney Dam that affects the Nechako River

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

British family deported after ‘accidental’ U.S. border crossing

U.S. officials deny it was mistake, release video of vehicle crossing into Washington from Langley

Most Read