UPDATE: 11:05 a.m.
After serving the community for many decades, Kelowna’s Bankhead Store is no more.
After a fire broke out in the store in the early hours of Sunday morning, fire crews spent several hours working to douse the stubborn blaze. But after a challenging fire fight, crews were forced to knock over two walls of the building to properly access the fire.
KFD Assistant Chief Mike Walroth said the roof was already fully engulfed in flames when firefighters first arrived on scene at about 5:30 a.m., making it unsafe to enter.
He noted the old building's walls were made of cinder blocks with sawdust insulation, and the sawdust proved to be extremely difficult to extinguish once it was burning.
"That's why we brought the backhoe in to take down the walls. so we actually get this fire out," Walroth said.
"It's a total loss. It's too bad because the building's been here a long time, but unfortunately with the construction and the way the fire went, we did have to take two walls down."
He noted there were no injuries in the fire and a cause has yet to be determined.
"We will bring an investigator in to have a look at it," Walroth said.
One of the owners of the store, Gurpreet Sherhi, watched with his family Sunday morning as firefighters doused hot spots on the pile of rubble, which was the Bankhead Store just hours prior.
He said he’d bought the store from a family member three years ago and said the morning has been devastating for his whole family.
Emergency Support Services is now providing care for the family who was living in the building.
Twenty-three firefighters, along with a safety officer and two fire chiefs attended the three-alarm fire.
UPDATE: 8:40 a.m.
Flames are still visible and smoke continues to pour from Kelowna's Bankhead Store Sunday morning, more than three hours after the fire first started.
Dozens of firefighters are on scene at the convenience store fire on Bernard Avenue and Highland Drive South, as they work to extinguish the stubborn blaze. Suppression efforts appear to be focused on the back of the building, while water pours out of the store's front door and flows down Bernard Avenue.
Thick smoke is being blown north from the building and the entire neighbourhood smells of smoke.
Paramedics, police, Fortis BC employees and the Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services members are also at the scene.
Bernard Avenue is closed to traffic from Burtch Road to Richmond Street, as crews work to fight the fire.
The Kelowna Fire Department has yet to release any information about the possible cause of the blaze.
UPDATE: 7:10 a.m.
The fire at Kelowna's Bankhead Store appears to be a stubborn one, as crews continue to work to knock down the flames.
As of 7 a.m., Kelowna Fire Department firefighters are using a ladder truck to spray water onto the building from above, while others hit it with hoses from the ground. Heavy smoke continues to fill the area.
Bernard Avenue remains closed in the area.
ORIGINAL: 6:20 a.m.
Kelowna's Bankhead Store has gone up in flames Sunday morning.
The long-standing convenience store on Bernard Avenue and Highland Drive South caught fire sometime just after 5:30 a.m.
A large plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from across the city and the residents in the area are waking to a smoky smell.
Kelowna Fire Department crews are on scene as of 6 a.m. dousing the fire.
The extent of the damage or the cause of the fire is not yet known at this time.