The damage estimate is expected to run into the millions of dollars after a fire tore through a large central Saskatchewan farm machinery dealership.
Emergency crews were called to Cervus Equipment John Deere in Rosthern just before 10 a.m. Sunday after area residents spotted the fire.
Eyewitness Sean Nichol said the flames were at least twice the height of the two-storey structure and explosions could be heard every few minutes as the blaze grew more intense.
Fire departments from other communities were called in and company workers tried to salvage as much equipment and material as possible.
There are no reports of injuries and the fire was under control by about 3 p.m.
At one point during the emergency officials ordered old water trucks taken out of retirement for use in the firefighting effort, while police closed or limited traffic on nearby highways 11 and 312.
Nichol, who works at a car wash across the street, said he didn’t notice anything wrong at the dealership when he arrived at 9 a.m, but less than an hour later some small plumes of smoke had turned into big flames.
“I assumed someone was going to run in with a fire extinguisher,” he said.
Nichol estimated that between 30 and 40 people work at the dealership.
“It’s going to be quite the catastrophe for the small town here.”
Cervus Equipment said in a statement that the fire resulted in significant damage to the business, which will be closed until further notice.
The company said in a statement that it understands the impact the blaze may have on the community, customers and employees, and that its Rosthern staff will be developing a plan that will include support from its dealerships in Saskatoon and Prince Albert.
“Our top priority is safety and right now we’re focused on ensuring the area is safe,” said Cervus Equipment president and CEO Graham Drake.
The Rosthern outlet is among 62 Cervus Equipment dealerships in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The company has locations across Western Canada as well as in Ontario, while its Canadian corporate office is situated in Calgary.
Besides John Deere, Cervus also carries the Peterbilt, JLG, Clark, Sellick and Doosan brands.