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Nico’s Nurseryland in Salmon Arm replaces interior of business after June fire

Front doors reopened, inventory being replenished, man charged with arson
Siblings and Nico’s Nurseryland managers Maaike Johnson and Marty van der Pauw stand in front of the newly replaced front entrance to their business which was badly damaged by fire on June 8, 2022. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

It’s been a stressful, sometimes traumatic, six weeks, but Nico’s Nurseryland in Salmon Arm is getting back to normal.

On July 21, managers (and siblings) Maaike Johnson and Marty van der Pauw reopened the business’s front entrance and store front following a fire on June 8.

Although van der Pauw predicts it will likely be January before things are completely back to the way they were, “it’s coming along,” he said on July 22.

The fire is believed to have started at the front of the store but everything inside the store, front and back, was damaged.

“Women’s clothing, jewelry, home decor… right down to the lights on the ceiling, all the cabinets. The insurance company took it all and said it would hold the smoke smell for years. We thought, really?”

Van der Pauw said he decided to take a small blanket home.

“It was in my truck for a couple of days and it just reeked,” he said, realizing the insurance company was definitely right.

The restoration company came in right away, he said, taking control of the clean-up and relieving the stress.

Because the fire was at the front of the store, the managers were initially hopeful the plants in the greenhouse were going to be okay. They looked all right that first day.

However, not the next.

“The day after that – the plants, their leaves were weeping or curling or just bleached. A beautiful pink flower was bleached white.”

As for conducting business, the one till still working was moved into the greenhouse and customers would walk around to the back of the building and enter there, protected from the renovations.

Johnson and van der Pauw express their gratitude for all the people who supported them after the blaze.

Among them, Buckerfield’s wrote a nice post and offered to bring pizza. West Coast Seeds brought a big tray of goodies and some customers brought home-baked pies.

Van der Pauw also speaks very highly of the fire department.

He was alerted to the fire by the tenant who lived upstairs. They heard an explosion, felt the floor shake and heard the fire alarm, he said.

Coming downstairs to grab the cats, they saw the fire in the middle of the fertilizer section. They called the fire department immediately and van der Pauw a minute later, he said.

Despite him living nearby, the first fire truck was there before him. He said he was amazed at the speed because the firefighters had to leave their homes, get their gear on and come to the fire.

“And they beat me – that was wild.”

Van der Pauw could see the flames when he arrived and he was scared with the fire so close to the fertilizers. He said he has no doubt the whole building could have gone up had the fire department not acted so quickly.

A suspect was arrested in connection with the fire.

Steven Alexander Albert, 45, is charged with arson damaging property as well as break and enter with intent to commit an offence. The case is making its way through provincial court in Salmon Arm.

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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