STEWIACKE - It’s unclear when an investigation into the cause of a weekend fire at BJ Electric Motor and Control Ltd. will be completed.
Bentley Rice with the Office of the Fire Marshal was at the George Street business for the majority of the day on Sunday and couldn’t say when the investigation would be finished.
“I don’t know the status because I haven’t been here for the last hour, but no, it isn’t completed yet,” he said, just after speaking with Colchester RCMP officers.
The officers were there to finish taking statements after the fire broke out at about 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
Family members and staff of BJ Electric are heartbroken and in disbelief that the business many of them called home is gone.
Tim Storer, a Stewiacke employed at the business for 17 years, lives about an eighth of a mile away on Main Street, and could feel the explosion in his home.
"I heard a bang ... I thought it was thunder at first ... then it shook the house. I looked out the window, saw the smoke and flames and I knew it was the shop," Storer told the Truro Daily News mid-Saturday morning as Stewiacke firefighters and RCMP assessed the scene.
“This place is home to me,” he said, looking at the business.
About 13 fire departments were called to help because tanker power was needed and the long weekend made it more of a challenge for manpower.
BJ Electric’s owner, Bill Jones, wasn’t available for comment on Saturday, however his brother Doug Jones told this paper the family was “distraught” as “all the hard work put in the business was lost in one night.”
Jones said the business “is what (Bill) lives for” and more than 20 people were employed there. According to Jones, his family has owned the business for almost 20 years and before that it was Smith Electric for many years.
Others in the community were also shocked to not only find the well-known business levelled by the fire, but were also in awe of how powerful the blaze was.
“It was like a war scene,” said Stewiacke’s deputy fire chief Mark Crozier.
“There were heavy flames coming through part of the building and they went to the next part and there was an explosion, one after another.”
Colchester RMCP’s Cpl. Trevor Allen said the explosions “could be heard in Shubenacadie” and could have been caused by propane tanks in the back of the building. In addition, a home next door suffered melted siding from the intense heat of the blaze and residents on George Street and nearby Lewis Street were evacuated for about two hours. No injuries were reported.
A cause wasn’t determined on the weekend and an investigation was launched, said Allen.
Word at the scene, although unconfirmed, was that the building was insured. Area residents were hoping for the best for the future, and whether or not that include rebuilding the business.
“They are good to people,” said customer Clarence Bourgeois, from the nearby community of Lanesville, adding he went to the business the day before the fire seeking three feet of motor wire.
“They didn’t even charge me for the wire.”
The town’s mayor, Wendy Robinson, told media she was “very disappointed to see another” destructive fire cause such harm “in a horrific way.” In September 2012, a fire ripped through an apartment building and laundromat in the community. Within days, a fire displaced tenants at a Main Street East home.
The Stewiacke Home Hardware custom cabinet shop on George Street was also destroyed by fire overnight Jan. 20 of this year. An investigation into the cause deemed it accidental. It had started inside a shed on an adjacent property and spread to the business.