Two people were injured as a fire ripped through one of the oldest buildings in Hedley, a former gold mining town between Princeton and Keremeos just off Highway 3, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The Hitching Post a popular restaurant for locals and tourists alike was reduced to rubble by the blaze.
Bystanders told the Review the couple who owned the restaurant had to jump from a second floor window. The couple bought the restaurant about six months ago and lived on the second floor. They were taken to hospital by ambulance. The extent of their injuries was unknown.
The fire started around 2:30 a.m. and was fully engulfed by the time crews arrived. Residents of the small town were woken by the sound of the community’s fire alarm and at least four large explosions.
A large orange glow could be seen out of town as the flames reached heights as tall as a hydro pole.
The Hedley Volunteer Fire department worked the fire for hours. Mutual aid was not called in. The crew was able to contain the falmes so no other structures were seriosuly damage. The siding on the closest neighbour, just a few feet away from the blaze, was melted but otherwise not damaged.
The heat from the fire was so intense it could be felt across the street. Crews doused the side of the Hedley Inn across the street to ensure it did not catch fire. Hydro was cut to several of the homes on Scott Avenue.
The Hitching Post building was built in 1903 as a one-floor building. Soon, a second storey was added and used as a Masonic dance hall.
Over the years, the main floor has served the community as the Hedley Trading Co. & Mining Supplies and Collens Department Store before sitting empty for several decades. The building was fixed up in the 1970s and turned into a restaurant first opening under the name the Golden Nickel.
For a time, the building was used as a private club for the One Way Foundation and then reopened as a restaurant under the name the Hitching Post.