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This article was published 29/8/2011 (3349 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE Berens River First Nation is without one of its major grocery stores after the Northern Store and an education centre were destroyed by fire early Monday.
Berens River RCMP said local residents tried to save the store, plus the nearby local Adult Education Building, but both structures were completely destroyed.
RCMP and the Office of the Fire Commissioner are investigating, but the two fires -- which started around 5:30 a.m. -- are considered suspicious. The buildings are about 180 metres apart. No one was injured in the fires.
A spokesman for the Office of the Fire Commissioner said the Northern Store suffered about $1.5 million in damage, while the Adult Education Building was worth $300,000.
Berens River Chief George Kemp could not be reached for comment.
Carmi Werner, a Winnipegger who was in the community and saw the two fires, said area residents believe they were lit by youths.
"They think that because it's kind of shooting themselves in the foot burning the local Northern Store. The only way to get lots of goods in there is by ice roads and they won't be open for months. Flying stuff in is very expensive," he said.
Werner said when he first arrived at the scene of the fire, a large fuel tank, only a few metres from the store, was on fire.
"It was pretty scary at first," he said. "But the fire only burned off the paint on the tank."
Paul McCrea, a senior manager for the North West Company, the owner of the Northern Store, said the company is already working with community leaders to work out a contingency plan.
McCrea said mail will continue to be delivered to the community and they will look at other options.
"Unfortunately, we've been in this situation before," he said.
"We look at turning other buildings in communities into our operating stores."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.