Residents of seven apartments were searching for places to stay and three family businesses are closed indefinitely after a major fire collapsed the roof over their Main Street building.
“I woke up and people are banging my door down,” said Sheldon Mitchell as he clutched his guitar outside the burning building.
Mitchell, 23, had been living in his apartment for two years.
“As soon as I got out in the hall, that’s when I started to smell the stuff. [The guitar] was the closest thing I could grab. Holding it at least makes me feel better,” said Mitchell, who heard electric breakers going off and on as he made his escape.
Smithers and Telkwa’s 35 firefighters battled the blaze for hours after being called out just after 7:30 a.m. Traffic was re-opened and power restored to neighbouring buildings over the lunch hour.
Five fire trucks were on the scene as water and fire retardant was sprayed from all directions. A ladder truck was used to douse the flames from above, but could not stop the roof from collapsing.
The flames were already raging on the roof and engulfing the satellite dishes when fire crews arrived.
Sisters Ella and Jessica Butz own the building that housed their businesses Mainerz and Back Alley Boots and Shoes, as well as Sedaz Lingerie.
Instead of getting the store ready to open at 10, the sisters saw firehoses as they drove up. They have owned the building for about four years.
“We’ve gone through lots of stuff with this building, and we’ve worked so hard to get it to here,” said Jessica as her sister was embraced by their parents.
The Butz sisters also own the three two-bedroom and four one-bedroom apartments. Everyone was able to get out without serious injury.