Fire chief Dan Derby said a Wednesday night blaze outside the Trail Legion came very close to becoming a major disaster.
Firefighters were called to the scene, at 2141 Columbia Ave., at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday evening.
“Firefighters were met with heavy fire on the outside of the building as well as multiple venting propane tanks,” said the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue (KBRFR) press release.
“It looks there was some activity underneath the access to that side of the building that resulted in a fire that started underneath the walkway,” explained Derby.
“As it caught the walkway on fire, it caught a couple of propane tanks on fire too. Then as they purged, that increased the intensity of the fire.”
Derby said the fire doors on the building helped keep the fire from getting inside the structure.
“It’s a combination, we had a crew of three on scene in four minutes, so a quick response from the Trail station, and then we had members from Warfield respond as well.”
Eleven members of the Trail Station 374 and eight more members from Station 372 in Warfield responded. The incident was under control at 9:30 p.m.
“Very quickly the fire was out and we spent a lot of time supporting the Legion in getting fans running to get smoke out of the building,” said Derby.
“The smoke was down to hip-level and very close to breaching the doors and coming in the building. It would have been a total different story.”
RCMP are investigating the cause of the fire.
“It is odd,” said Derby. “I don’t know if it’s suspicious as much as it is odd.
“The fire clearly started on the exterior of the building. There’s almost evidence of somebody camping or sleeping there.”
Sgt. Mike Wicentowich of the Trail RCMP confirmed that account. He said a uniformed police officer was on a routine patrol when he discovered the fire.
“An unknown person had been camping beside the building and had lit a campfire,” he told the Trail Times. “The campfire was believed to have been the cause of the fire to the exterior of the Royal Canadian Legion.”
Staff at the Legion was assessing damage, awaiting an insurance adjuster and determining if the Legion will be closed for any length of time.
“We probably will be (closed),” said Glenda Reilly, administrator at the Trail Legion Branch No. 11. “We haven’t quite determined that yet.”
She said there was executive meeting Thursday night (after press time) to determine the next course of action.
“There was minimal damage to the hall but the smell of smoke is all through the building,” said Reilly.
She added the fire stopped short of entering the building and doing major damage.
“It could have been worse so we were lucky in that respect.”