Firefighters attack the awning of the 7-Eleven store while the vehicle that drove into the front of the building just before 2 p.m. Aug. 24 burns beneath it. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Update: Police arrest a suspect after front of 7-Eleven goes up in flames

No charges laid, Salmon Arm firefighters quick to control blaze that began with vehicle fire

One man is in custody following the fire that damaged the front of the Salmon Arm 7-Eleven Friday afternoon.

Salmon Arm RCMP have confirmed that a man was arrested following the incident. It’s not yet known if the suspect will be charged and, if so, what the charges will be.

Witnesses reported that a person drove a silver compact vehicle into the front of the 7-Eleven building at 371 Trans-Canada Highway just before 2 p.m., then poured gasoline inside the store and lit it.

UPDATE 7 p.m. Aug. 24:

Firefighters were quick to control the blaze that erupted in the front of the downtown Salmon Arm 7-Eleven Friday afternoon.

Salmon Arm Fire Chief Brad Shirley reports the fire department was originally called to a report of a vehicle on fire at the convenience store, but this was immediately upgraded to a structure fire as the building was also involved.

Two halls responded with two engines, an aerial ladder, a tender and a rescue truck, along with 21 firefighters. The first engine arrived within minutes, and crews quickly knocked down the fire.

Related: Crews battle a structure fire in Carlin, north of Salmon Arm

Firefighters were on the scene for more than two hours.

Shirley said the fire was contained to the exterior and front facade of the building, though there was significant water damage to the interior.

“As for cause, certainly suspicious in nature and RCMP are investigating,” said Shirley, who commended 7-Eleven staff for ensuring everyone inside was quickly and safely evacuated.

Witnesses say the blaze that engulfed the front of the 7-Eleven in Salmon Arm was intentionally set.

Several witnesses reported that a person drove a silver compact vehicle into the front of the 7-Eleven building at 371 Trans-Canada Highway, poured gasoline on the hood with a gas can and lit it on fire.

This has not yet been confirmed by authorities.

One terrified worker at the convenience store is reported to have run into a neighbouring business and hid behind the counter.

Related: Shuswap bank destroyed by fire

Resident Reta Moerike was across the highway at Fletcher Park just before 2 p.m. Friday when she and her spouse heard a loud bang.

“It might have been the guy driving into the store – he would have hit the newsstand, not the till,” she surmises.

Another man in the park saw the billowing smoke and immediately recognized it as a vehicle fire and ran towards the store.

Moerike could see from across the street that a car had driven into the store’s front window.

“The door (of the car) was open so we knew the person was out.”

She estimates fire trucks were on scene within two to three minutes.

“Things started blowing up – we thought, ‘what about propane tanks?’ But it was smaller stuff, there would be a pop and then a puff of smoke. Then the awning caught fire, and the whole front of the store went up rapidly. That happened just as the trucks came on scene.”

She says she was very impressed by the way the emergency crews handled the incident.

“Within a matter of three or four minutes, all of the first responders had all traffic mobilized, all the traffic coming down he hill was being rerouted. It was really efficient, quite an amazing thing to watch how the whole thing was managed. It was really impressive. Not only the fire, but the whole scene.”

Update 2:23 p.m.:

Several witnesses have reported that a person drove a vehicle into the front doors of the 7-Eleven building, poured gasoline on the hood with a gas can and lit it on fire. This has not yet been confirmed by authorities.

One terrified worker at the convenience store is reported to have run into a neighbouring business and hid behind the counter.

The front of the building is badly damaged.

Firefighters and police remain at the scene, hosing down the building.

Three lanes of the four-lane highway highway are open and highway traffic is moving well.

City streets around the site are still blocked.

Original story

The 7-Eleven store in downtown Salmon Arm is on fire, which may be connected to a vehicle fire at the front of the building.

One witness stated the vehicle may have driven into the front of the building. No confirmation of that.

Several fire trucks and police on scene at the store, 371 Trans-Canada Highway. The westbound lane of the highway is currently blocked, as are surrounding streets.

Drivers are asked to avoid the area.

More updates shortly.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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Emergency crews tackle the fire at the front of the 7-Eleven convenience store on Highway 1 in Salmon Arm about 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Firefighters attack the front of the 7-Eleven store while the vehicle that drove into the front of the building burns in front of it. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Firefighters work to control the blaze at the front of the 7-Eleven in Salmon Arm. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

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