A fire at a Yarrow lumber business knocked out cable, Internet and telephone service to large portions of Chilliwack Thursday afternoon.
The blaze broke out in a metal quonset hut at Ivis Wood Products, near the corner of Yarrow Central and No. 3 roads. The quonset hut housed stacked lumber, and soon after smoke was first spotted, flames were bursting from the front of the building.
Dick Byker, who lives across the street from the lumber site, said the yard has seen little activity recently.
"My wife said, there's smoke coming out of the building," said Byker. "At first there was a lot of smoke coming out, then, all of a sudden you could hear it: vwoooooomph."
Byker said flames were shooting out the front of the hut.
"I thought that pole was going to go up," he told the Times.
Fiber optic wires on a nearby power pole did sustain some damage and led to widespread Internet, phone and cable outages in Chilliwack.
Firefighters, meanwhile, were able to snuff out the blaze Thursday evening, although crews remained on the scene Friday morning. The blaze's cause may never be known for sure, but assistant fire chief Ian Josephson says it is probably of an accidental nature.
"There's no indication it was deliberately set," he said.
The property's owner was set to speak to Mounties Monday. Josephson there is little evidence at the scene after a bulldozer was brought in to help mop up the fire.
Following the blaze, Yarrow resident Sue Schellenberg told the Times that neighbours had previously complained to the city about the property's management.
Schellenberg, whose home and pottery studio sit directly across the road from the lumber yard, told the Times, via email: "This fire hit very close to home for me. If there had been a stronger wind that day I know at least two homes would have caught fire, mine included and maybe more."
Schellenberg said residents had complained about noise, sawdust and the upkeep of the property.
"There has been various businesses operating in this facility for over 20 years but it wasn't until the last five that we have had problems," Schellenberg said. "Perhaps it's time to review this process and, if we must have industrial so close to residential, perhaps a stricter set of guidelines need to be adhered to and enforced without the public having to make a complaint first, to ensure the safety all."
Representatives of Ivis Wood Products could not be reached by press times Monday.