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Headingley grass fire destroys dealership's cars

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Stacey Titterton, manager of Steve & Niki's restaurant in Headingley,  at the fire scene behind the business where a grass fire Tuesday burnt an older car and two popup trailers along with other new vehicles parked nearby in a field.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Stacey Titterton, manager of Steve & Niki's restaurant in Headingley, at the fire scene behind the business where a grass fire Tuesday burnt an older car and two popup trailers along with other new vehicles parked nearby in a field. Photo Store

HEADINGLEY -- Freak winds whipped a grass fire into an inferno, destroying part of a Dodge dealership's truck inventory, and nearly took out a restaurant that's a local fixture.

Restaurant owner Leo Vartsakis was taking the damage in stride Wednesday morning.

"Through fire, flood and storm, we're still here after 45 years," he said.

The roadside diner, Steve and Niki's, was briefly evacuated when flames ignited grass metres away from its backyard.

The fire started shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday but volunteer firefighters were here until after dark last night dousing hot spots.

Damage estimates were still being tallied this morning.

"It looks like there were 25 trucks that were involved. They weren't all totalled but I was just out there counting them," Headingley Fire Chief Doug Hansen said.

Investigators have yet to confirm an official cause of the fire.

The preliminary findings strongly suggest it was a grass fire, accidentally ignited by exhaust fumes from a van.

A local dealership had parked dozens of trucks in the high grass yesterday, including the van that got stuck.

"It was an accident. They were just young guys and they got stuck. Your first initiative is to get out but the ground's soft and the grass is dry," Hansen said.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM CDT: changes photo

3:24 PM: adds video

4:32 PM: Corrects typo.

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