It’s been a stressful, sometimes traumatic six weeks, but Nico’s Nurseryland in Salmon Arm is getting back to normal.
On July 21, managers (and siblings) Maaike Johnson and Marty van der Pauw reopened the main entrance and storefront following a fire on June 8.
Although van der Pauw predicts it will probably be January before things fully return to how they were, “it’s moving forward,” he said on July 22.
The fire is believed to have started at the front of the store, but everything inside the store, front and back, was damaged.
“Women’s clothing, jewellery, interior decoration… right down to the ceiling lights, all the wardrobes. The insurance company took it all in and said they would hold the smell of smoke away for years. We thought, really?
Van der Pauw said he decided to take a small blanket home.
“It was in my truck for a few days and it stank,” he said, realizing the insurance company was definitely right.
The catering company stepped in immediately, he said, taking control of the cleaning and relieving the stress.
Because the fire was in the front of the store, managers initially hoped the plants in the greenhouse would be fine. They looked good that first day.
However, not the next.
“The next day the plants, their leaves were weeping or curling up or just turning white. A beautiful pink flower has been bleached white.
As for the conduct of business, the one that was still functioning was moved to the greenhouse and customers walked around the back of the building and entered, away from the renovations.
Johnson and van der Pauw express their gratitude for everyone who supported them after the fire.
Among them, Buckerfield’s wrote a nice post and offered to bring pizza. West Coast Seeds brought a large platter of treats and some customers brought homemade pies.
Van der Pauw also speaks highly of the fire service.
He was alerted to the fire by the tenant who lived upstairs. They heard an explosion, felt the ground shake and heard the fire alarm, he said.
Going down to catch the cats, they saw the fire in the middle of the fertilizer section. They immediately called the fire department and van der Pauw a minute later, he said.
Although he lives nearby, the first fire truck was there before him. He said he was amazed at the speed as firefighters had to get out of their homes, put on their gear and come to the fire.
“And they beat me – it was savage.”
Van der Pauw could see the flames when he arrived and he was afraid of the fire so close to the fertilizers. He said he had no doubt the whole building could have gone up if the firefighters hadn’t acted so quickly.
A suspect has been arrested in connection with the fire.
Steven Alexander Albert, 45, is charged with arson and break and enter with intent to commit an offence. The case is making its way to Salmon Arm Provincial Court.
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