FSJ Return It reopened

FSJ Return It expects to reopen in the next couple of days after its building was damaged in a fire Monday morning.

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Firefighters standing outside of a blue building with smoke coming out the back of it.
Firefighters starting to put out the fire outside of FSJ Return It. (Shailynn Foster, Energeticcity.ca)

UPDATE: FSJ Return It has reopened with regular hours as of Thursday, March 2nd.

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — FSJ Return It expects to reopen in the next couple of days after its building was damaged in a fire Monday morning.

According to the Fort St. John Fire Department, the fire began just before 9 a.m. outside the bottle depot, eventually extending inside to the ceiling and through to the building next door.

FSJ Return It’s manager, Eric Stutzman, found out about the blaze after receiving a phone call from one of his employees.

“I told him, ‘phone the fire department and get out of the building. Your life is way more important than a building or anything else,’” Stutzman said.

Earlier, one of Stutzman’s employees texted him a picture of a structure behind the building that he suspected someone had made to keep out of the wind. It is unclear if the fire originated from the structure.

“They told me that they had smelled some smoke but didn’t see any flames or anything,” Stutzman said.

On his way to work, he noticed the black smoke coming from the area.

A fire engine was already on site once Stutzman got to the shop.

“They responded super fast. I was very impressed on how fast they were there and how many firemen were there on duty and getting stuff under control as quickly as possible,” Stutzman explained.

Fire crews had some difficulty chasing the fire through the space between FSJ Return It and the Noble building next to it.

Stutzman said the reason crews had issues was because of a piece of sheet metal blocking access to the space between the buildings.

Currently, the fire department is still investigating the cause of the fire. Stutzman said his employees didn’t see anyone near the site when the building caught fire.

“I think it was accidental. I don’t think anybody was trying to burn the building down,” Stutzman said.

The manager is waiting for the insurance company to call in a structural engineer to determine how bad the damage is. Stutzman said most of the damage was on the exterior of the building, and the fire department didn’t think there was any reason stopping them from reopening.

“Even the insurance adjuster said, ‘yeah, it looks like it’s fine,” but we do have to make a hundred per cent sure that everything is good to go,” Stutzman said.

Stutzman said they hope to open their doors back up on Thursday or Friday.

Stutzman added he was thankful the police and fire departments were there “very, very quickly.”

“I thought they did an absolutely fantastic job,” Stutzman said. “I’m very thankful for all of ‘em for being there. Spending a few hours to clean up our mess.”

Deputy Fire Chief Troiano said the department responded with 21 firefighters, two fire engines, a tender, a ladder truck and four command units.

Crews were reportedly at the bottle depot for about three hours, and the fire is still under investigation.

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