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Westbank Lions Community Hall goes up in flames
An early morning fire engulfed the Westbank Lions Community Centre hall Sunday.
The fire, which is believed to have broken out around 8 a.m., spread quickly through both the original wooden hall portion, which date back to 1928 and the adjoining newer part, added in 1980.
The building was renovated in 1980 when it was moved back from its original position nearer to the road and the addition was completed.
Firefighters were on scene with several fire trucks and the department’s aerial ladder truck fighting the flames from about 8:30 a.m. and multiple firefighting units were called in to help fight the stubborn blaze.
The wooden hall, which was believed to be heavily booked for the rest of the year, was to have hosted a wedding reception Sunday afternoon, said Rick Hebner, past president of the Westbank Lions Community Development Centre Society, the society that owns the building.
In addition to being available for community events, the historic hall building was also home to the a youth centre and a Red Cross equipment lending centre.
Building manager Judy Ingram told local media that when the building was checked Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. everything appeared fine.
“It’s a significant loss,” said West Kelowna Coun. Bryden Wisby as he watched the firefighter attempt to extinguish the blaze.
He said the damage to the building appeared extensive and while there was no immediate assessment of damage from the West Kelowna Fire Department, if what remains of the hall has to be demolished, it will drastically alter the municpality’s plans for a new municipal hall, said Winsby.
The municipality currently operates out of space at the Mt. Boucherie Recreation Complex but has been eying plans to build a new municipal hall in Westbank in future.
With the community’s main meeting space gone, that could mean a larger, and more expensive, municipal hall that may have to include additional community meeting space.