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Commerce Building site to be cleaned up soon

Town CAO says they’re working with the building’s owner
wes commerce building site IMG-7793
It’s been two months since a fire ravaged the Commerce Building in downtown Westlock. Town CAO Simone Wiley said they’re working the owner of the building to get the site cleaned up. George Blais/WN

WESTLOCK – Town officials say the remnants of the Commerce Building, which had to be levelled following the Jan. 31 fire that gutted it, will be removed soon.

Town of Westlock CAO Simone Wiley was careful choosing her words, but said April 1 that they’ve been in conversation with the building’s owner about getting the Main Street site cleared. The 76-year-old Commerce Building burned Jan. 31 and in the days that followed it had to be razed due to frequent flare-ups and the fact that it was no longer structurally sound.

In February, town fire chief Stuart Koflick confirmed that the fire, which he previously said was the toughest he’s faced in the 11 years he’s been in Westlock, was not suspicious in nature.

“What I can tell you is that we are in an enforcement process and are working with the owner to start the clean up very soon,” said Wiley Thursday morning. “There isn’t a rule that we have in place as far as clean up … really it’s supposed to happen as soon as possible.

“I mean it’s sitting in our downtown core. We’ve got a business right next door that has invested a significant amount into their exterior and that’s their view right now and I’m very aware of that.”

The brick building’s two-story construction circa 1940s and frigid sub -20 C conditions were just some of the obstacles firefighter faced — pretty much all of the 15-member volunteer staff, including the department’s two junior firefighters, spent time on scene, while around 10 Westlock County firefighters, including two engines, were called in along with an aerial truck and crew from Barrhead. No one was seriously injured in the blaze, although two residents were sent to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

George Blais, TownandCountryToday.com