A suspicious fire was lit in the toiletry aisle of the Campbell River Walmart around 10 p.m. Thursday night.
Cell phone video captured by shopper Amanda Anderson shows flames billowing out of rolls of toilet paper. Another video taken from further away shows smoke filling the big box store.
“There was no fire alarm, no sprinklers,” said Anderson. “Just an announcement saying for a manager to call someone, then the fire got bigger.”
Anderson tells CTV News that’s when someone got on the store’s PA system, saying, “Code red.” It was then that all the stores employees gathered up and walked out of the store.
“Someone then said, ‘Hey, pull the fire alarm so people know to get out,” said Anderson. “One of the workers said, ‘No, it’s OK, the fire department is on its way.’”
When fire crews arrived, the fire was still burning. However, firefighters credit store staff with limiting the spread of the flames with a fire extinguisher before evacuating the store.
“The staff were right on it, they immediately evacuated the store and did a great job on that front,” said Campbell River deputy fire chief Kelly Bellefleur. “Some even had the wherewithal to grab an extinguisher and discharge a couple of extinguishers on the fire, which kept it from growing.”
Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire quickly and worked well into Friday morning mopping up.
Walmart Canada now says that the Campbell River location is closed for repairs and clean-up.
“The store is currently closed as we carry out necessary clean-up and repairs and will reopen once this has been completed,” said Walmart Canada in a statement. “We are also working closely with police as they investigate the situation.”
Firefighters say they are not currently sure what the cost of damage is, but estimate that it will be severe due to smoke damage, paired with the amount of inventory in the store.