Langley Advance Coverage of Fire

Langley Advance Story by Heather Colpitts and Matthew Claxton

photo by Matthew Claxton, Langley Advance

Firefighters poured water into the shell of the IGA Marketplace store in Fort Langley on Tuesday morning.

The fire that gutted a venerable Fort Langley business Tuesday morning was likely started during an attempted break in, police say.

Windows on the building’s north side were broken, and someone had cut through metal bars trying to get into the store, said Cpl. Holly Marks, spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.

The attempt to cut through the bars may have actually started the fire, Marks said.

Police are holding back details about how the bars were cut while the investigation continues.

The IGA Marketplace at Glover Road and Mavis Avenue caught fire sometime around 5:30 a.m. A passing Langley Township worker salting the roads was the first to call 911 after seeing smoke.

“At first it was billowing smoke,” said Diane Morrison, the owner of Wendel’s Bookstore and Cafe.

From the shop, directly across Glover from the IGA, she watched as the first firefighters arrived and entered the building. Not long after, the fire really began to get going.

“There was at least two to three stories high flames,” Morrison said.

She could feel the heat of the fire through the windows of her store.

“It literally burnt to the ground right in front of our eyes,” she said.

Firefighters spent several hours battling the blaze, using hoses from the ground and from atop ladders perched above the roof.

Even by 7:30 a.m., as Langley Township firefighters poured water on the blaze, a massive cloud of grey smoke rose from the building.

The IGA sign from the front of the building was lying on the sidewalk in front of Glover Road. Glover itself was closed between Mavis and 96th Avenue.

Nearby buildings seem to have largely been undamaged, although some residents living nearby were evacuated. Most shops on Glover within a block of the fire were closed at least temporarily while the road was blocked off.

Wendel’s was only open to serve breakfast and coffee to the firefighters as they wound down their firefighting, Morrison said.

The IGA stands on a site that has served Fort Langley as a general store or grocery store for more than a century, according to Kobi Christian, a curator at the Fort Langley Centennial Museum.

The first store recorded on the site was Coulter and Berry’s General Store, built in 1898. It also served as the post office under owner David Moss Coulter.

The original building burned to the ground in the late 1920s, but was rebuilt.

The store went through a few owners and name changes, before becoming the IGA in the 1970s. It is family owned and operated.

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