Two homes, including a hobby auto body shop, in the Town of Pense were destroyed early Friday morning after a fire tore through the buildings.
Fire crews say the blaze began in a home around 4 a.m. A family of three was inside and managed to escape.
"We got here it was in the roof, it was well involved. We went on to an offensive attack on the house with about three sets of lines," Pense District Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Ken Lovell said.
4:44am @PenseFireDept was dispatched to a structure fire within the Town of Pense at , still on scene.— Pense Fire Dept (@PenseFireDept) March 6, 2020
The fire then made its way to the neighbouring property, which acted as a garage and auto body shop for John Wilson’s vintage and custom vehicles. Wilson says he was asking crews to save the vehicles, and one firefighter managed to drive out one of his new trucks, but the other 11 vehicles were destroyed. Wilson believes he lost around $1 million in damages, but questions why the fire department took until around 5:30 a.m. to call him, about an hour and a half after the blaze started.
"They phoned me when the building was on fire, ‘Ahh your building is on fire. Ahh great.’ well they wouldn't let me go in there to get a couple of them out" Wilson said. “I could live with the building burning down. But if I could have gotten all the vehicles out,”
(Submitted: Shanda Lorenz)
"I was bawling. I came from Swift Current this morning. I bawled the whole way down, I was like literally screaming in my car. And now I’m in shock as well, cause when you see what it looks like, it's like oh my god we lost everything," John’s daughter Macy Wilson said.
"We did have lots of water available to us. It's just one of those situations sometimes, so,” Lovell said. ”people have lost their house. A shed is whatever. Infrastructure and people's houses, that's what matters. Lives over property, people."
Wilson says the town originally allowed him to build the shop on the residential lot and feels he no longer would be allowed, adding the town told him he is responsible for cleaning everything up.
John and his family aren’t sure what to do next.
"So we're just going to I guess figure out a step where to go after this," Macy said.
John says he didn’t have insurance for the vehicles and he’s doesn't plan on buying any new cars.
An investigation is underway into the cause of the fire.