Witnesses say the blaze that engulfed the front of the 7-Eleven in Salmon Arm Aug. 24 was intentionally set.
Several witnesses have reported that a person drove a silver compact vehicle into the front of the 7-Eleven building situated along the 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.
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 newstand, 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.
Meorike 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.”