April 17, 2014 - 5:44 PM
STORE OWNER RAISED MONEY TO BUILD A FIRE DEPARTMENT
KAMLOOPS – Every community has its hub. Pinantan Lake’s was the General Store that went up in flames last night.
All that remains now is smouldering pieces and charred, unopened beer cans. A day later, they explode in the heat. An occasional firework goes off, too.
The community relied upon Cory George, who owned the store for three years. It was a convenience for groceries, a fundraising hub for local events, and a meeting place to grab a coffee. Some even used George’s phone line, since Pinatan Lake doesn’t have cell service.
“We sold everything. Absolutely everything,” George said. “Throughout rural B.C. you’re gonna find oodles of these little stores. They all have their own unique stories, but their same story is they bring communities together."
Now locals will have no choice but to make the 40-minute drive to Kamloops to buy essentials, at least until it's re-built, which George intends to do.
Authorities are still investigating what caused the fire. It burned last night without any response from firefighters.
“It’s been put out by itself. There’s no fire service here,” RCMP Cpl. Mike Mucha said. The RCMP remained on scene since the fire to ensure nothing compromises the investigation.
Community members have struggled to get a volunteer service in the area, none more so than George himself—long before his store burned down. He has raised money for the Pinantan East Paul Lake Fire Department Association to get a volunteer-based fire hall to house the association’s small fire truck. The Thompson Nicola Regional District discussed selling the association a piece of property for $1 to help the hall get started.
But so far, the hall remains unbuilt and the fire truck remains unused in storage.
George says while the fire truck wouldn’t have made a significant difference this time, plenty of luck was also involved: Rain, no wind and nowhere for the fire to spread. He worries a fire can easily spread to other buildings or in the bush if someone isn't around to stop it.
“This could have been totally different,” he said. “In the future to help us stop these things from happening, we need to have fire service.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014