A massive fire that erupted Friday afternoon at Windsor Plywood and spread to the adjoining Canadian Liquidation store destroyed both businesses located north of the Southern Rail line on Vedder Road.
It was a customer of Windsor Plywood who alerted staff to the fire which started in the door- and lumber-storage area after 2 p.m. Staff evacuated customers and themselves from the building and called 911.
Chilliwack Fire Department crews answered the call that came in about 2:30 p.m. as flames and smoke could be seen billowing from the 7100-block of Vedder Road.
The fire spread quickly and aggressively from the storage area to the main store, and then to the south engulfing Canadian Liquidation. Both businesses were located in the same building.
The walls and roof of the building collapsed as a result and an excavator was brought in to systematically open up the building to enable firefighters to safely gain access to extinguish the fire.
Canadian Liquidation posted to their Facebook advising people to stay away from the area and confirming their building is on fire.
Chilliwack fire dispatch was calling for backup by 3:15 p.m., and more crews were still on the way at 3:45 p.m.
There were reports that the nearby trains were being halted on the tracks.
BC Hydro reported that 4,050 customers in the Sardis and Promontory areas were without power by 3:30 p.m. with another power outage reported shortly after that affecting 1,288 customers north and south of the freeway.
Fire crews were successful in stopping the blaze from spreading to nearby properties and businesses including Excel Martial Arts, which is located in a building right next door and was saved except for some damage to siding.
“Thank you a million times over to the Chilliwack Fire Department,” Adam Gibson of Excel Martial Arts wrote on Facebook. “I feel sad for the owners and staff of Windsor Plywood and Canadian Liquidation. They are our friends and neighbours and now their lives have been turned upside down,”
“If the fire had started 15 minutes later, we would have been evacuating the building with a whole wack of kids,” he added.
MLA Laurie Throness, whose office is just a few doors down from the fire, expressed his sadness and condolences on his Facebook page on Friday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, there is sadness and celebration at Christmas,” he wrote. “This afternoon Windsor Plywood in Sardis burnt down, just a few doors away from my office. Our firefighters are doing a great job, keeping the fire from adjacent buildings.”
Traffic on all nearby roads was chaotic for several hours as a result of the fire, dealing which spread into rush hour on the Friday before Christmas.
There were no civilian or firefighter injuries.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and is under investigation.