Woman loses business in fire

A Keremeos woman is devastated after her new business was destroyed by a fire early Monday morning.

Jennifer Montgomery, owner of The Paw Spa, said she lost everything in the blaze that swept through a downtown building around 1:30 a.m.

"My husband woke me up at 6 a.m. to tell me there was a fire and the building was gone," she said. "I called my mom, crying, and came out to see it. It's unbelievable."

Keremeos Fire Chief Jordy Bosscha said the fire started in a rental suite in the back of the building. A woman tenant, who was there at the time, is OK.

Around 16 firefighters attended, there was a lot of smoke out the front and flames out the back, where the suite is, he said.

The main flames were knocked down quickly, but there were hidden flames in the attic they couldn't get to.

"Then it eventually burned through the roof, causing a lot more concern," he said."So we brought in a backhoe and the building was pulled apart, and we were then able to extinguish it."

Bosscha added they had to demolish the building, to stop the fire from spreading to the old building next door and that crews did a great job of saving the neighbouring buildings in freezing temperatures. Some were even wearing wet gear from a previous fire.

Geoff Berg, the owner of Berg's Ox Yoke Collectibles next door, said he was in his business at the time of the fire.

"I woke up to the sound of breaking glass, and the fire department was out front making entry," he said. "They came into my store to see if there was any damage. I was on the other side of the road watching. It was pretty worrying and scary, but the fire department did a good job."

Montgomery said she only opened the pet grooming business on Dec. 1 on Main Street and was just building up a clientele.

Her business shared the building with the apartment, where the woman tenant lived.

She currently estimates her loss to be anywhere from $15,000 to $17,000.

For now, she says, some groomers in Penticton have loaned her some equipment and she will work from her home.

Others, seeing her plight, have also offered to help out.

"Everyone has been great. I'm getting phone calls, lots of messages on Facebook, with people wanting to know what they can do," she said. "For now I will do something from my home and then get another grooming shop going in Keremeos."

She lost  all her clients' info and wants people to know they can reach her at (250) 499-6073, and she will do grooming at her home.

She did not have insurance, so any financial assistance would help as well.

There is talk of getting a fund-raiser organized.

Both Bosscha and the RCMP said the fire is deemed to be accidental at this time.

An earlier fire broke out Saturday night, right around the corner from Monday's fire, at the Riverbed Bistro.

Bosscha said two of the four apartments and two hallways burned in the blaze right across the street from the fire hall.

The fire was knocked down quickly and no one was in the building at the time.

Bosscha said firefighters were somewhat hindered by people driving down the alley and parking lot where firefighters were working, and he asks that people stay away from the scene during a fire.

The owner of that building is believed to be from Surrey. The cause remains under investigation.

According to Castanet news reports, there was a bizarre incident at the same location in 2011, when the bistro owner was charged with attempted arson and later pleaded guilty.

Witnesses at the time, reported someone pouring gasoline around the perimeter of the building.

The bistro is now believed to be under new ownership, different than at the time of the 2011 incident.

Send photos and video to [email protected]

Deborah Pfeiffer





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