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Penticton store saved by broken water pipe

Smartshopper Discount Store owner Leigh Follestad has had an eventful past couple of months - Western News file photos
Smartshopper Discount Store owner Leigh Follestad has had an eventful past couple of months
— image credit: Western News file photos

A Penticton business person is hoping bad luck doesn’t run in threes.

Still dealing with aspects of being broken into last month, Smartshopper Discount Store owner Leigh Follestad said a fire broke out in the store’s attic space around 11:40 a.m. on Sunday. He said it was serendipitous the fire melted a pvc water pipe that doused the flames causing just minor smoke and water damage.

“The first thing one of the employees noticed was water leaking onto the floor and the ceiling tiles were soaked and falling. They had the wherewithal to call the fire department,” said Follestad. “We only had to shut down for a couple hours to clean up. I’m very lucky. It could have been worse and I can’t even fathom how bad it could have been.”

Follestad said investigators believe a plumbing pipe that provides water and was insulated with heat tape to keep it from freezing was the cause of the fire. He said the thermostat unit that regulates the temperature failed allowing it to heat up.

“A fire started and ignited the foam insulation around the water pipe. The water pipe caught fire, melted and the water pressure put the fire out. I think someone is smiling on me because this happened during the day when we had people around who took notice,” said Follestad.

Penticton fire chief Wayne Williams agrees that the store owner was lucky because of the fires location.

“Because the building is so old there are probably a number of different variations and it is wood frame construction so there is a lot of nooks and crannys the fire could have gotten a good hold on to,” said Williams. “It could have been a lot worse, especially in that area because the buildings are so close. They do have firewall protection but that only buys so much time.”

In April Follestad’s store was victim to a break and enter through the glass front door. Security cameras in the store caught two young people taking about $20 worth of energy drinks and chocolate bars. Follestad turned to social media to help identify the culprits and with the help of RCMP he decided to take the approach of not having the two youths charged. Instead he turned to restorative justice.

“That has been working out well,” said Follestad. “At their particular age this provides them an opportunity to grow and learn something. Hopefully it will get them back on track and understanding consequences and how their actions affect other people.”

 

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