Downtown business fires update

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Photo: Joy Klassen

Brandon Police Service Special Release

At approx. 12:29 PM, on Saturday, May 19th, 2018, Brandon Emergency Services responded to a structure fire at Christie’s Office Plus, 705 Pacific Avenue. As a result of strong winds dispersing ignited debris, the fire spread to a neighboring structure which included the businesses; Collyer’s Sales and Service, Brandon Boxing Club and Kazic Kontracting. Additionally, the Massey Manor apartment complex directly across the street, the Cold Beer Store and adjoining vacant structure located at 5th Street and Rosser Avenue were ignited in the same fashion.

Brandon Emergency Services with assistance from Office of the Fire Commissioner, Manitoba Hydro and Souris, Wawanesa and CFB Shilo Fire Fighters, worked diligently to extinguish the growing blaze and protect other buildings in harm’s way. 8.3 million gallons of water was dispensed in order to do so and a total of 67 BFES, mutual aid firefighters and Manitoba Hydro staff were deployed.

The Brandon Police Service, Office of the Fire Commissioner, Brandon Fire and Emergency Services and Canadian Pacific Police Service are conducting a joint investigation in order to determine the origin of the fire which caused an estimated $25 million in damage.

To date, evidence exists that the fire originated in a grassy area between the southernmost CP rail line and the north side of Christie’s Office Plus which in turn ignited the north side of the Christie’s structure. Multiple witnesses reported seeing a number of people in the area prior to the building being engulfed in flames, suggesting that the fire may be a result of human involvement. These individuals have yet to be identified and it is unknown at this time if the fire was deliberately set or is accidental in nature. To date, there is no evidence to indicate that operational activity on the rail line caused ignition.

This incident remains under investigation by the involved agencies. Although appropriate measures have been taken to secure the fire sites for public safety reasons, we ask that the public continue to consider these areas a safety hazard. The joint investigation is ongoing and the involved agencies encourage anyone with information related to this incident to contact the Brandon Police Service.