Business owners in New Westminster can do nothing but wait following the fire this morning that has affected at least six businesses in the Columbia and McKenzie area.
It could be weeks before they know what the plan is going forward.
The building was a historic one. It was on the Heritage List and was built in 1904.
Until last year it was the home of the famous Copp’s Shoes, which had been in the family for three generations.
Terry Brine was the most recent owner, and is still part owner of the building.
“I’ve had a business in this building for 42 years, my father was prior to that, my grandfather from the 20’s on, so it’s been in our family for 85, 90 years,” he said.
“It’s provided a living for three generations, and it’s finished, it’s just a real sad day.”
Golden Brides moved in last year. That store has been completely destroyed.
“I feel more badly for the tenants we’ve had, some of them we’ve had for years and years and years,” said Brine.
WATCH: Footage of the fire and a subsequent explosion
A repair shop had been there for 40 years, and a barber shop had been there for 60 years.
“For them it’s an even bigger blow because that’s their livelihood,” Brine added. “It’s too early for them to get a grips on what the next few months are going to bring, it’s not going to be pretty.”
The law offices of Edwards & Company are also concerned about their documentation but they do have back-ups of their work.
New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright said the biggest concern right now is getting the fire out and making sure everyone is safe. The debris is still smoking and the smoke is hanging thickly in the air.
Wright said the building is special because of one of the families involved. “There’s a Mr. Bill Lewis, who is one of our old council people and he’s been around and his family’s been around for over 100 years.”
“And that building was very close to him and in fact, I was having a talk with him last week and he was telling me we’d be proud about the things he was doing there,” he added.
The city has set up a Fire Information Area at the police station and they are holding one-on-ones with the people who are affected.
“This street is one of the most important streets in British Columbia, and we want to get it back in order and back into its use,” said Wright.
GALLERY: New Westminster fire: