'Heart wrenching': Meadow Lake bids farewell to decades-old community arena destroyed in blaze

Merlin Seymour has been mayor for just under two years and when he saw the town’s 45-year-old arena going up in flames, he thought of how “the arena is such a big part of the community and is the heart of the community.”

The community's RCMP detachment is investigating the blaze that destroyed the arena early Sunday morning.

While Seymour says he's confident the city will have a new arena at some point, he knows there’s a long road ahead.

Meadow Lake City council is meeting in the coming days, to discuss what the plan will be.

Seymour told CTV News that there was a lot of memorabilia lost in the fire including jerseys of notable local players, some of whom moved on to the NHL.

"So definitely a big loss of the memorabilia and the memories of the arena," Seymour says.

While his first concern was for the safety of everyone and he says he's glad no one got hurt, he realizes it will be hard to replace the items lost inside.

Jennifer Voth has lived in Meadow Lake for 35 years and when she woke up Sunday morning to see that the rink was gone, she says, it was “heart wrenching.”

At first she saw her newsfeed fill up with photos of the charred arena.

"It was so bad, I didn’t recognize it so I texted my friend and asked 'What are you talking about it?' She said, 'It’s gone, it’s totally gone.'"

She said her four kids didn’t play hockey, but they still attended many events in the arena which she says was in great shape for it’s age and had undergone renovations in recent years.

Voth says what “added to the sadness,” was that with COVID restrictions easing up, people were excited to get back to the arena more and attend events.

According to RCMP, the fire appears to have been set in a nearby storage shed.

An "older model grey truck" was reportedly spotted leaving the scene shortly before police arrived, RCMP said in a news release.

A concession stand that shares a parking lot with the arena was also broken into on Sunday, according to RCMP.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact police.