Overnight fire destroys Mill Woods grocery business

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A Mill Woods business was left in ashes after an overnight fire in the early hours of Monday morning.

Shortly after 2:40 a.m. on Monday, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) responded to a call at a strip mall located at 1079 Knottwood Rd. East in Mill Woods. A fire had broken out in the corner of a row of businesses in the strip mall, causing damage to two shops and leaving a third destroyed. EFRS said that no injuries were reported in the fire and that an investigation is underway.

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A slow stream of people visited the strip mall on Monday morning with the parking lot still wet from the EFRS efforts to put out the blaze earlier in the morning. Some people were headed to the businesses that remained open while others had come to take a look at the burned-out storefront.

Wedged between Blasters Ice Cream and a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy, Hamud Halal Meat and Grocery store had a burned-out front, allowing viewers a look into the charred innards of the shop.

The owner of the pharmacy, who asked not to be named, stood nervously in front of a neighbouring daycare with his leg jittering as the fire inspectors entered the burned-out building.

The pharmacist hadn’t entered his shop yet and wasn’t sure what the state of it was. As he waited uneasily to see how his business had fared from the nearby flames, he said his main concern is for his customers, who had prescriptions that they were counting on receiving.

The owner of the nearby Menisa Mart, Avi Bachu, only learned of the fire when she got to work Monday morning. She said she hadn’t heard many details about the blaze, except that a morning customer who lives in the area said that they’d heard a loud bang through the night around when the fire started. Others said they also heard loud noises.

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A resident of the area, Larry Jamieson, said that he’d heard loud popping that woke up him and his wife up shortly before the fire trucks arrived on scene. The pops, he said, were consecutive and remembered hearing roughly 30 of them around 2:15 a.m.

Looking out the window of his home, Jamieson said he saw significant white smoke rising as high as four trees stacked on top of each other.

Across the mall, Caleb Hesse from JT’s Bar and Grill said a few of his customers mentioned hearing similar sounds.

supreme pizza
Employees from Supreme Pizza salvage any supplies they can from their business two doors down from the fire scene on Knottwood Road East in Mill Woods on Monday, May 27, 2024. Photo by Shaughn Butts /Shaughn Butts

“They said they could hear it going off for quite a while because there were explosions. It almost was so loud that it sounded like it was gunshots going off,” Hesse said.

The EFRS public information office said the call had come in at 2:40 a.m., with fire crews arriving on scene just four minutes later.

Jamieson said the popping noises stopped once EFRS was on scene as flashing lights from emergency vehicles including police vehicles swirled in the night sky.

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EFRS said 10 fire crews were on site, amounting to 40 firefighters working on the blaze starting at 2:40 a.m. Crews had the fire under control just after 3 a.m. and it was declared extinguished at 5:03 a.m.

Edmonton police spokesperson, Cheryl Voordenhout said in an email that police responded to multiple reports of an explosion and fire at a grocery store on Knottwood Road East around 2:30 a.m. and that it is being investigated as a suspicious fire.

With 10 different stores, the mall is a hub for the local community and Hesse said the area is often fairly busy. The grocer, ice cream store and pharmacy are the only stores with visible damage.

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Twitter/X: @ZacharyDelaney

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