The RCMP are investigating witness reports that two youth were observed fleeing the EZ Fuel building before the September 2 fire that destroyed the business.
Corporal Mike Field of the Oliver RCMP said police are requesting anyone with information to call 250-498-3422 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
At approximately 12:45 am, police and members of the Oliver Fire Department responded to a fire at 8102 Highway 97 (the former Oasis Gas station). Firemen conducted successful fire suppression over six hours in order to contain the blaze. About 15 members and five trucks were utilized to action the fire, which destroyed the roof and gutted the building.
Oliver called Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department for mutual aid in the form of a water tender. Captain Fred Dobransky and member Dale Stevenson spent nearly two hours dumping water into Oliver’s portable tank so there was enough to drown the fire. Firefighters had to use a hydrant at Sportsmen’s Bowl Road to fill their tanks because there was no hydrant at the scene.
Media relations officer Spencer Tribbick from Oliver said the building’s roof was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. The fire was working its way from the north end (where a large propane tank was located) to the south end. Tribbick said the building consisted of old construction and a lot of wood fuel, which made their task quite challenging.
Field said the business had been undergoing renovation work and was unoccupied at the time. No injuries were reported. Highway 97 was closed to both north and southbound traffic for approximately two hours due to poor visibility and the possible risk of explosion.
Field said the property owner attended the scene and confirmed that the building was insured. Business representative Terry Feeny told the Chronicle that he plans to rebuild, noting he has already met with architects.
Feeny said the fire was a real shame since he had planned to open the business on September 8. This will now be delayed by several months.
“I feel bad for the staff I hired.”
Feeny said the renovation work utilized local tradesmen, such as Mike Johnson Excavating.
The fuel tanks were in the ground and Peters Bros. Construction was getting ready to pave the lot, he pointed out.
Ironically, Feeny was shopping for fire extinguishers for the fuel pumps on Saturday night, just hours before the fire started.
“But I’m a firm believer that when one door closes, another opens.”
Feeny said the offers of help he has received from the community is “unbelievable.” People have phoned him asking what they can do to help the business get back on its feet. This outpouring truly reflects Oliver’s small town kindness, Feeny said.
Field said a provincial fire commission investigator is conducting an analysis of the scene. Arson has not yet been ruled out.