Downtown Virden fire ‘possibly suspicious’: Fire chief – Manitoba

A blaze that destroyed three buildings and damaged a fourth in downtown Virden is being investigated as “suspicious,” says the local fire chief.

“It’s under investigation,” fire chief Brad Yochim said Monday. “Yes, it is possibly suspicious.”

It was also the second fire in the same location within a few hours, he added.

Cleanup was underway on Monday in the western Manitoba town as people still come to terms with the loss of three heritage buildings in Virden’s historic downtown.

Yochim said firefighters were called to one of the buildings on Friday night an found an electrical amplifier on fire. It was quickly extinguished and there was no actual fire in the building, he said, adding that the power was disconnected before firefighters left.

“Then at 5:43 the next morning we get called to smoke coming to the same building.”

“This time it was in a totally different area of the building. It was in the basement. We were not able to access the basement because of the heavy smoke. So we ended up cutting a hole in the floor at the front of the building just inside the front door and trying to extinguish it from that point.”

Christy Gabrielle’s clothing store — which was planning on reopening in the near future — was destroyed in the blaze. 

“I’m in total shock,” the single mother of four kids told CBC News in Virden on Monday. “I’m trying to wrap my mind around it … It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Christy Gabrielle’s clothing store was destroyed in a fire that destroyed three buildings in Virden’s downtown on Saturday. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Gabrielle said she was out of town when the fire broke out and heard about it when friends started sending her photos and videos over text message.

She said the insurance she had on the building won’t fully cover the loss.

Gabrielle said had recently been awarded a heritage grant to renovate and restore the space and had spent about $60,000 so far.

At this point, she said all she wants is…

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