Shoppers hoping for an early start to their excursions Saturday morning were being turned away by an employee at the Walmart in North Bay after a Friday night fire.
“We’re closed today,” an employee at the Walmart entrance said.
“I heard about it on the news last night,” said one shopper who had arrived at about 7:30 a.m. “I didn’t think they would still be closed.”
North Bay Fire and Emergency Services responded to the fire at about 9:30 p.m. Store employees and customers were evacuated after the fire was reported in a clothing rack in the men’s wear department.
The fire quickly grew, with it soon reaching toward the ceiling and smoke billowing through the store.
Fire platoon chief Mike Hives told The Nugget the damage is in the millions of dollars.
He confirmed the fire started in the men’s section and North Bay police are investigating.
“The store will definitely not be opening tomorrow (Saturday). When it will reopen remains unknown. They may have to throw out all of their inventory. The loss is in the millions.”
Hives said the Ontario Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate. Security remains on site.
All three fire stations responded to the alarm activation.
Platoon Chief Mike Newman said Saturday there is no indication at this time of structural damage to the store.
“It was mostly the contents and water damage,” he said.
Sgt. Jason Long of the North Bay Police Service said a joint investigation of the criminal investigation service and the Ontario Fire Marshal is underway.
Three Walmart stores in the Kitchener-Waterloo area had suspicious fires late October.
The Fire Marshal estimated the cost of the three fires – set in the paper products section of the stores in – to be more than $12 million.
Two people have been charged in connection with those fires. All three stores are now back in operation.