TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Firefighters try to knock down flames during a fire at a building that houses Rylam Developments, Prairie Electric and Westman Golf Service on Pacific Avenue near Second Street in Brandon on a freezing cold Monday morning. The blaze destroyed the building, but firefighters were able to keep it from spreading.
Fire and ice — two competing elements were front and centre in a downtown blaze that destroyed a building and left three businesses out in the cold yesterday morning.
Flames lick out from the building as firefighters work to put out a fire that consumed a set of businesses at Pacific Avenue and Second Street in Brandon on Monday. Firefighters braved temperatures hovering close to -30 C for hours while battling the blaze. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Ice clings to the equipment on a firefighter battling the blaze at a set of businesses on Pacific Avenue near Second Street on Monday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Golf carts and a moped sit encased in ice as firefighters put out hot spots during a fire at a building which houses Rylam Developments, Prairie Electric and Westman Golf Service on Pacific Avenue near Second Street in Brandon on a freezing cold Monday morning. The blaze destroyed the building but firefighters were able to keep it from spreading. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
A firefighter walks past ice-covered golf carts and a moped while working to put out a fire at a building that houses Rylam Developments, Prairie Electric and Westman Golf Service on Monday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
A firefighter knocks down flames with water while working to put out a fire that consumed a set of businesses at Pacific Avenue and Second Street on Monday morning. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Smoke billows out from the building as firefighters work to put out a fire that consumed three businesses at Pacific Avenue and Second Street on Monday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
At approximately 7:45 a.m., Brandon Fire and Emergency Services were called to the intersection of Second Street and Pacific Avenue for a structure fire.
"When I pulled up, there was smoke and flames coming out of the west side of the building," said BFES Capt. Wade Ritchie, who was suited up, complete with a balaclava to protect himself from the weather.
"We went right into an offensive attack from the exterior trying to push it west, but unfortunately the fire got up into the attic and jumped our efforts."
With temperatures hovering around -30 C — and feeling colder than -40 C with the wind chill factored in — firefighters caked in ice battled the fire.
They were successful in strategically preventing the fire from jumping to an existing upholstery business located to the south. Firefighters also protected a Manitoba Hydro pole, which if damaged would have knocked out power in the inner city.
Early indication points to a faulty electrical heater, Ritchie said, adding that when crews arrived, the building had already been evacuated.
The building, which housed Prairie Electric, Rylam Developments and Westman Golf Service, is a complete loss.
Firefighters were still cleaning up equipment early yesterday afternoon.
"It’s not the way you want to start the week," Prairie Electric owner Kelly Puhach said.
The business only recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.
"It’s a lot to take in right now," Puhach said. "We’ve been trying to work and stay busy to keep our minds off it for now and we’ll deal with it (Monday night)."
Puhach said a group of employees from Rylam Developments and Prairie Electric were just starting their workday when the fire was discovered.
"We were there having a safety meeting (yesterday) morning, between Rylam Developments and Prairie Electric, when it started," Puhach said.
"I know a couple of Rylam guys were trying to put it out when it started, but the smoke was pretty heavy by the time we all got out."
One employee was taken to hospital for precautionary reasons after he inhaled some smoke trying to battle the blaze.
It’s the second fire in the area in as many years.
On Jan. 23, 2012, the Sturgeon Tire building at the corner of First Street and Pacific Avenue burst into flames, destroying the building.
That fire was deemed to be caused by a faulty air compressor.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 10, 2013