A fire has destroyed one of Rosthern’s largest employers Sunday morning.
Shortly before 10 a.m., residents nearby began noticing smoke, and then flames escaping from the Cervus Equipment John Deere building.
Within two hours, the fire quickly spread outside of the building, shooting flames to the skies.
Sean Nichol works across the street at Wash World. He didn’t notice anything when he arrived for work at 9 a.m, but less than an hour later, the small plumes of smoke turned into large flames.
“I was watching what was going on, and a little bit of smoke was coming out of it, so I assumed someone was going to run in with a fire extinguisher, but it’s just been getting worse and worse,” Nichol said, around 90 minutes after the blaze began.
“It’s a two-storey building, and the flames are easily twice the height of the building itself.”
In addition to the high flames, Nichol said explosions could be heard every few minutes.
“I guess they got lots of high-pressure tires in there, and lots of old fuel,” he said. “It’s just been exploding, and exploding and exploding.”
Cervus staff began moving farm equipment and materials as soon as they heard the building was on fire in an attempt to salvage what they could and prevent further danger.
Multiple fire detachments were called in to fight the blaze including Duck Lake and Hague fire departments. Retired water trucks were also called in to fight the flames.
Police have closed or limited Highway 11 and Highway 312 surrounding the blaze.
Nichol estimated between 30 and 40 people work at the dealership.
“It’s going to be quite the catastrophe for the small town here,” Nichol said.
In a follow-up call Monday with 650 CKOM, Cervus Equipment health and safety manager Mark Samber said the company was bringing in trailers to use as temporary offices, with plans to limit any disruption to clients or workers as much as possible.
“There’s no requirements for us to be looking at layoffs or anything like that. We’re going to continue to support our employees and keep them working,” he said.
Samber said Cervus was still working with its insurance company before putting together a plan to rebuild.