Heartwrenching is one way to describe Monday morning’s fire in Keremeos.
The fire beleagured community was victim to another conflagration early on July 14 when the historic Keremeos Hotel erupted in a maelstrom of fire and smoke.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the fire.
Monday’s fire marks the third business fire this year, on top of several private residences that have gone up in smoke over the past year.
Twenty residents are out of work with three businesses destroyed by the flames. All this is taking place during what is traditionally one of the busier times of the year for the Keremeos retail sector.
One couldn’t blame Keremeos residents – or the fire department – for wondering what they did to deserve such bad luck, or when this current cycle of fire activity will cease.
The venerable old building that burned Monday was one of the first commercial structures built in what was, in 1906, the third version of the Keremeos townsite, having moved from the upper bench flats near present day Bears Fruit Stand when hotel owner George Kirby realized the coming railway would be built on the level ground near the river.
The Keremeos Hotel holds a special place in the hearts of many in the area. As one Facebook comment noted, “a lot of good and foggy memories came out of that bar.”
The business survived 108 years in many different forms, but it was always a place of comfort and pleasure to the many who stayed in its accommodations or drank at its bar.
Monday, July 14 was a sad day in Keremeos. We feel for the employees who lost jobs, and the business and property owners who lost their property today.
We can only wish for a quick resolution to today’s damage, and hopefully a speedy rebuilding.