Chase history damaged by blaze

Museum: Second fire in four days has citizens speculating.

Chase Fire Chief Brent Chamberlain (right) speaks to Chase volunteer firefighters Wednesday about the fire damage to the Chase Museum.

Hot flames and smoke seared a hole in the collective past of Chase overnight Tuesday.

While it will take time to determine what has been lost, it’s certain that the fire at the Chase Museum has taken its toll on Chase’s historical treasures. Police are calling the damage to the building extensive, even though it didn’t burn to the ground.

Roger Behn is president of the Chase and District Museum and Archives Society and was instrumental in creating the museum.

“I have no idea what’s lost, what’s not, what’s salvageable and what’s not. I can tell you, it will be a massive clean-up job inside,” he said Wednesday, pointing out that what happens next will depend on what the insurance company finds.

He said the extent of water damage is not yet known. There wasn’t too much put on the archives, he surmises, but the bell tower was doused with water which may have found its way there.

Fire chief Brent Chamberlain said the fire was mostly at the front of the building, which sustained extensive smoke and heat damage. He, too, said the extent of damage to the archives isn’t yet known.

Behn, and others, were understandably devastated when they saw the state of the museum Wednesday morning.

“I’ve seen an awful lot – your stomach falls down through the bottom of your feet, and what can you do?”

Tuesday night’s blaze, which was reported at 11:50 p.m., was the second in four days. Saturday night the museum was attacked by arsonists, report police, and that blaze was quickly extinguished.

The cause of Tuesday’s fire hadn’t been determined at press time.

“As for the rumours of a serial arsonist running around the Village of Chase lighting property on fire, Chase RCMP would like to dispel this rumour,” wrote Cpl. Skotnicki in a news release. “There is no evidence to suggest that the two incidents are related and police hope that this will allow the residents of Chase to rest easy.”

Chase RCMP are asking residents to report suspicious activities to the police and are seeking information “relating to the fire that was suspiciously set on Saturday night…”

Behn points out that Saturday’s blaze knocked out the alarm system, which was expected  to be repaired Tuesday but wasn’t. Similarly, Martin Dalsin, the village’s chief administrative officer, reported that the plan was to remove the archives after the fire but that hadn’t been done by Tuesday.

Deborah Chapman, who is curator of the Salmon Arm Museum and Archives, has done several exhibits for the Chase museum, including one on First Nations and one on forestry.

“It’s just so very sad. They’ve got a wonderful collection of Montgomery photographs,” she said, explaining he was a professional photographer who travelled all over B.C. and made Chase his home. Among his images were many photos of the Adams River Lumber Co.

She noted what wonderful community support the Chase Museum has had over the years, such as the roof recently repaired with residents’ help. The museum is housed in the historic Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church built by Father LeJeune in 1910. It operated as a church until 1984 and has housed the museum since 1987. Some of the museum’s exhibits can be viewed online at

A museum is the place for community memories, Chapman says.

“You feel it’s safer in a museum because when it’s left in individual hands, the next generation comes and says, ‘we don’t know these people’ and throws them out.”

One of Behn’s favourite historical items is the big painting of a bucking bronco and another man on a horse that hung on the end wall of the museum.

“It was originally the false front on the livery stable and the livery stable stood where the Royal Bank does now,” he says, explaining that it was hanging on the wall farthest away from the fire.

“There’s a bit of hope.”


Just Posted

Okanagan and Shuswap blossom at Communities in Bloom awards

District of Sicamous, City of Armstrong double winners at B.C. awards gala; Lumby also a winner

Internet speed testing implemented in the CSRD

Test results will be tracked to find areas where improvement is needed.

Sicamous Eagles lose two on the road

Despite late offensive surges, the Sicamous squad came up short in Spokane and the Beaver Valley.

What financial commitments do you want from candidates running for prime minister?

As the federal election quickly approaches, the Observer took to the streets… Continue reading

In photos: Magician entertains in downtown Salmon Arm

Children of Salmon Arm were treated to the wonders of magician Leif… Continue reading

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Former South Okanagan resident found dead in Alberta

Candace Deleeuw was reported missing Sept. 16

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Latimer surveyed much of Summerland

Civil engineer was also responsible of community’s irrigation system

Caught on Camera: Boat catches fire at Okanagan marina

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, no injuries were reported as a result of the blaze

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Most Read