Jason Stutzke says he was driving through Saskatchewan last Wednesday when he received a text message that made him sick.
The message included a photo of a building at night, his building, engulfed in flame.
“I got a text with a picture at 2:30, three-o-clock in the morning of a building in flames and I’ve got tenants up there,” said Stutzke. “All I cared about was did they got out alive?”
Sicamous Fire Chief Brett Ogino said the tenants were awake when the fire occurred and were able to get out unharmed.
The building itself, however, and everything within, including Stutzke’s business, Extreme Power Sports, was destroyed in the fire that occurred at approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 6.
“I lost everything, not only business stuff – I had a house and half of my personal contents in that building that I lost. Everything to my name,” a distressed Stutzke told the News by telephone from Winnipeg later that day. He said he was in the process of picking up his Mustang show car, to deliver to California for auction, when he received news of the fire.
Approximately 32 firefighters, from the Sicamous, Malakwa and Swansea Point fire departments responded to the blaze at Stutzke’s commercial/residential building on the Trans-Canada Highway. They remained on the scene until about 6:30 a.m.
Ogino said the fire appeared to begin in the back garage-area of the cinder-block building, and quickly spread through the roof. With no one inside the structure, firefighters battled the blaze from the outside with multiple hoses on the ground, and the Sicamous department’s ladder truck nailing the flames from above. Ogino said he was concerned the building’s metal awning might come down during the fight. A section of it did, but later in the morning when no one was nearby.
The fire has not been deemed suspicious; however, given its size, Ogino requested the investigation be conducted by the Office of the Fire Commissioner. Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Scott West said police would also be involved if needed.
Stutzke said he recently rented a home in Kelowna, where he runs another business, and had been in the process of moving his personal belongings there.
Extreme Power Sports was closed for the summer, and Stutzke said he’d planned to reopen in the fall. The building, he noted, was for sale, and a potential buyer was in the wings. However, Stutzke says the plan now is to rebuild.
“I have no choice… I was going to open in the fall again for the winter season. So, my fingers are crossed that the building will be rebuilt by fall,” said Stutzke.