Keremeos landmark lost to fire
It’s all gone.
The Red Bridge Pub, the Keremeos Hotel Liquor Store and the Seventh Street Diner were destroyed by fire in Keremeos on Monday morning.
“I could see a red glow inside the main front door of the bar,” said Fire Chief Jordy Bosscha, who was first on the scene.
The Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene at approximately 8:20 a.m.
Bossca said the fire hadn’t yet breached the building at that point and the front door of the Seventh Street Diner, in the same building, was cold to the touch.
Firefighters arrived within minutes, but by then the fire had broken out of the building and was spreading quickly along the front of the building.
Several hose lines, including the department’s engine mounted monitor, were brought to bear.
The initial attack slowed the flames along the front of the building but was ineffective against the flames inside the building.
Joined by firefighters from Kaleden and Osoyoos, Keremeos firefighters battled the flames for nearly four hours.
Their progress was hampered by the shear severity of the blaze, which prevented an interior attack.
Fears of collapsing walls and roofs meant firefighters had to keep back, which also limited the reach of their hose streams.
An excavator was brought in around mid-morning to take walls down and allow firefighters better access.
By noon little remained of the historic building but a sprawling pile of rubble.
Power was cut to a portion of the downtown section of Keremeos at 9:17 a.m., leaving a number of downtown businesses in the dark until early afternoon.
Keremeos Hotel liquor store manager Laurel Dierdorff wept along with other employees of the businessess as they watched their livelihood go up in flames.
“A lot of sweat and hard work went into that building,” an emotional Dierdorf said Monday afternoon as she watched firefighters cool the wreckage while an excavator tore apart what remained of the building.
“We’re all devastated.”
It’s the end of an era,” said Bill Irvine, who owns the building.
“It was built in 1906 and just about everyone who ever lived in Keremeos, or who passed through the village can remember an experience in there.”
“We put a lot into the building to make sure it was up to standards and safe,” Irvine said. Neither he nor Dierdorf could say how the fire might have started.
Twenty employees have lost their place of employment as a result of the fire, Irvine said, noting three businesses were destroyed.
The building was insured, and he expressed a desire to rebuild and get back to business as soon as possible.
“You wake up in the morning, thinking it’s going to be a normal day,” he said, “but you never know what’s going to happen.”
The Keremeos Hotel was one of the village’s oldest and most historic buildings. Over the years it has been extensively renovated.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.