UPDATE: 4:28 p.m.
RCMP in Salmon Arm have arrested a Shuswap man in his 30s following a dramatic incident Friday afternoon during which a vehicle rammed the front of the 7-Eleven store on Highway One before the building was set alight.
“Based on our preliminary investigation, it appears to have been purposeful,” Staff Sergeant Scott West, detachment head, told Beach Radio News. “The driver ran into the store and, according to witness accounts, it’s alleged he splashed gas in the store and then lit the store on fire.”
West said the four store employees were able to safely evacuate the store while there were no known patrons inside at the time of the incident.
He said some nearby businesses were evacuated for some time.
The fire department is said to be wrapping up their efforts at the scene.
The 7-Eleven convenience store on Highway One in Salmon Arm has been seriously damaged by fire after a car drove into the building.
Firefighters, an ambulance and RCMP rushed to the scene around 1:50 p.m. Friday, according to eye witness Kelsey Hucul.
“The building went very quickly,” said Hucul. “I presume propane tanks started exploding because there were multiple explosions.”
It is not known if there were any injuries.
Hucul said the car had blocked the front exit and that people would have had to escape through the back of the structure.
“First there were just flames coming out of the car and then it started getting into the roof and roof started falling, you know, the awning.”
Photos from the scene show a large black shell where the store stood.
(Photo courtesy of Kelsey Hucul)