Mercedes rams steel door, escapes blast by seconds
Firefighters hose down the inferno that swallowed a floor tile business and the steel container business. Below, a hazmat team member.
It began with a big thud. Doug Mackenzie, who lives a couple houses away from the doomed Target Steel and an unmarked tile business, could feel the first blast from inside his home.
"It rattled my door," he said. "I jumped and went out to see what was going on and that's when there was an even louder explosion."
According to Mackenzie, staff at the metal stamping business across street, told him it was just after the first boom that they saw a black Mercedes crash the door and disappear down the street. Then the explosion happened. Just like that.
"He told me he saw the car coming out of the building," said Mackenize.
Apparently, the first blast sent the reported pair inside to the car, and knowing that they only had seconds to get out, they rammed their way through. It paid off. Just after they left the scene the second and more powerful explosion ripped through the building touching off the ensuing inferno.
Thanks to firefighters who soldiered through it all, the house across the street remained unscathed.
Meanwhile, the fire was tearing through the tile store roof and didn't stop until it consumed the adjacent steel shipping container business. Within a few minutes a column of thick black smoke could be seen across the downtown area.
Electricity to homes and businesses went out for three bocks.
Firefighters take a breather and discuss breaking down rubble while a crew, right, hoses hot spots.
Firefighters were still hosing the smoking cinder blocks down the next day.
Later that same day police moved in an ERT vehicle. Mounties wearing white suits were joined by a hazardous material removal crew in yellow with blue plastic barrels next to the trucks.
An excavator shoveled mounds of charred and broken tiles out of the way. Streets surrounding the site were taped off in all directions for three days as crews cleared the site.
RCMP Emergency Response Team and cruiser were sentinels in front of the scene Tuesday.
Police opened up enough so people could see what was going on. Speculation is that the tile business was a front for a major drug lab.
Throughout the fire people watching were agog as flames shot 50 feet in the air.
The charred door where the Mercedes blew through.
The owner of Target Steel was upbeat and already thinking about recovering from the devastating loss.
"I think I can get a place off Lickman," he told The Voice.
His secretary sat in the white pickup visibly upset.
Target Steel owner talking with a nearby resident.
A man who lives two houses up Fourth Ave. said Target Steel had hired his wife only the day before.
No one was getting through, not even the owner of Target Steel.
There's no word if arrests were made, or if police recovered the black Mercedes.
Reports early Tuesday morning were that a vehicle was burned out at Peg Leg. There was no indication that it was the same vehicle involved here.
Inky smoke completely blotted out the blue sky.
There has been no word from the Chilliwack Fire Department or local RCMP. Watch for more information as it becomes available.
That's one swamp drained. Next.
Anyone with information can call local RCMP at 604-792-4611 or contact Crime Stoppers if you wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-8477 or www.solvecrime.ca.