By Marianne Curtis
The community of Niverville was left reeling after an early morning fire at the end of March completely destroyed a strip mall containing seven businesses.
Niverville fire crews were called to the Main Street strip mall located on the east side of the community around 1:30 AM on March 29 after a 911 call was placed by a passer-by who spotted flames coming from a second floor window. The volunteer fire department along with the help of neighbouring fire departments was finally able to control the blaze three hours later but the building was a total loss.
The $2.2 million blaze destroyed the entire building containing businesses including a bakery, bookstore and linen and glassware rental business as well as a number of offices, shops and warehouse space. No one was injured in the blaze.
Despise the entire loss of her business, Kristin Von Riesen and her sister owns the Slice of Life Bakery, remains optimistic.
“We are definitely going to rebuild and be running as soon as possible,” she says. “We were hoping to expand a little but now that the whole building is coming down we can start over.”
She admitted that while the initial call was a shock and for a moment she panicked.
“We were kind of worried that it was just our bakery and that we had caused some sort of fire,” Von Riesen added. “It was a relief to know that it wasn’t started by us.”
A couple of the other businesses destroyed included ‘A Touch of Glass’ which is a linen and glassware rental business and ‘Solomen’s Porch, which is a bookstore, along with a woodworking shop and several upstairs offices.
Niverville mayor Greg Fehr says that the fire is a blow to the community.
“These businesses have suffered a setback because they will have to find someone else to continue operating,” Fehr says. “At the same time, it could have been worse and we are grateful that the fire department was able to contain the blaze.”
While the exact cause of the blaze is not known at this time, the fire commissioner’s office has determined that the blaze started at the center of the mall and spread outwards.
The sign in the forefront is the only thing left after a $2.2 million fire destroyed the entire strip mall containing several businesses at the east end of Niverville.