Steinbach and Hanover fire departments laboured Saturday evening into Sunday morning to suppress a fire that tore through McMunn & Yates Building Supplies in Steinbach.
"This is probably one of the largest (fires) in the City of Steinbach," Fire Chief Kel Toews said.
The store, located at Unit 1 – 107 Highway 12 North, was unoccupied and no one was harmed in the incident. A damage estimate is pending.
The Office of the Fire Commissioner arrived on scene Sunday to begin investigating the cause of the fire.
Toews said his department was dispatched at 6:25 p.m. to reports of alarms ringing at the store, which had closed for the day at 5 p.m.
"When we got here, there was a lot of smoke coming out of the building and inside the building," he said.
Firefighters took up a defensive position and called in Hanover Fire Department to assist.
"It wasn’t safe to send anyone in. We made it a defensive fire and kept everyone outside," Toews said.
The warehouse behind the store is "probably salvageable," Toews said.
An adjacent business, Stony Brook Pantry, sustained smoke damage but wasn’t reached by the flames.
A crowd of onlookers gathered as the evening wore on to watch the firefighting effort and the arrival of an excavator that tore open the store’s facade to expose hot spots.
Monitoring and cleanup work continued Sunday.
"With a fire like this, we have to stay pretty well all night to secure it and to deal with hot spots, et cetera," Toews said.