Thompson businesses not sure of next steps after fire forces them out of mall

A fire in downtown Thompson last week has forced roughly half a dozen businesses to set up shop elsewhere in the northern Manitoba city, with the future looking unclear for some.

“We actually have no clue,” said Bobby Moore, owner and operator of Moore Specs, an ophthalmology-based business that was based in the Burntwood Plaza strip mall, which was hit by a fire last Thursday.

“Nobody has really nothing to say right now,” she said. “We’ve just took our stuff out of there, and we’ve moved across the street.”

Moore’s business is now operating out of Thompson Plaza, across the street from the Burntwood Plaza, as is the case with some of the other businesses that were affected by the Thursday fire. 

“We’ve just relocated here for a couple months,” she said. “[We’re] hoping that our building is gonna get back up and running.”

Crews responded to the fire, which started in the Shoppers Drug Mart in the Burntwood Plaza, around 1:50 a.m. on March 9, RCMP said last week. Around 5 a.m., RCMP were called back after the fire started up again, said a spokesperson.

The fire spread and several adjoining businesses were engulfed in flames.

The Shoppers Drug Mart building was destroyed, but it’s not yet clear what will happen with the rest of the mall’s spaces.

A large orange flame comes out of a Shoppers Drug Mart store in winter as black smoke billows around it.
Crews initially responded to the fire at the Shoppers Drug Mart around 1:50 a.m. last Thursday, but emergency responders were called back when it flared up again. (Submitted by Erin Wilcox)

Lori Mann, president of Maple Bus Lines, which operates out of Thompson and Winnipeg, said her business was one of the lucky ones.

Her managers in Thompson were able to jump on a new location quickly, setting up shop in the city’s old Robin’s Donuts building, where they’re operating on a temporary month-by-month lease.

“I don’t know if … they’re gonna rebuild or what,” she said.

“So we were lucky to get a space that was open … [and] do a temporary lease.”

Postal, pharmacy, banking services affected

Thompson’s Royal Bank of Canada branch was also among those affected by the fire, and is still closed.

Dale Rohovich, RBC’s regional vice-president for northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nunavut, said the bank remains “committed to the community of Thompson.”

“We are actively exploring a number of solutions to minimize disruption to clients,” said Rohovich, and the bank will communicate those options to its customers in the coming days.

For more immediate needs, customers can access an RBC ATM available at the Selkirk Avenue Petro-Canada location in Thompson.

The Shoppers Drug Mart, which was the main structure engulfed in the fire, also leaves a gap in pharmacy and post services in the community.

Canada Post said on Facebook that mail items and postal services are being redirected to the Thompson post office at 103 Selkirk Ave. Valid government-issued photo identification will be required to pick up mail, the Facebook post said.

Anyone who thinks they lost mail and packages in the fire is asked to contact Canada Post’s customer service.

Meanwhile, Loblaw, the parent company of Shoppers Drug Mart, directed people who need pharmacy services to Clarke’s Pharmacy, at 50 Selkirk Ave.

The next steps regarding the Shoppers Drug Mart aren’t yet clear, a statement from Loblaw public relations said.

“No plans are final at this time,” according to the statement.

The Office of the Fire Commissioner says the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but RCMP said last week it did not appear to be suspicious.

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