A large steel shop lit up the night sky west of Rimbey as the structure burned to the ground on Nov. 16 in a fire of an undetermined cause.
The shop belonged to Roy and Lou Rosenthal; the family was at home when the blaze broke out.
“I heard popping noises while we were talking,” said Kaley Rosenthal, granddaughter.
“The light’s were flickering,” she added.
The couple’s dogs alerted the family there was something outside and began pawing at the door of the home.
Rosenthal says her grandmother was the first to see the shop in flames and immediately called 911 while others ran outside to move the number of vehicles parked in front of the building.
She added fire services were called around 9 p.m. but the fire was already well underway by then.
The Rimbey Fire Department arrived on scene to control the fire and more resources were sent from Ponoka.
The steel structure and high winds were a challenge for firefighters.
“The wind was blowing … it created a little fire tornado,” said Rosenthal, who recalls the phenomenon was taller than the shop itself.
However, despite the winds, the fire caused no other major damage other then warping the siding of another residence on the property and a shed.
Rosenthal says as the shop burned there were many smaller explosions. The building contained propane, oxygen, other welding equipment, a skid steer, parts and 50 years worth of tools.
The shop also housed 14 antique tractors ranging from the 1930s to the 1970s, restored by Roy.
In the past he has restored and sold approximately 170 tractors but these 14 were specials ones he was keeping for himself.
Two weeks before the fire the couple discontinued the content insurance they had on the shop, leaving just the building insured.
A gofundme page has already been established for the family with a goal of 400,000 and can be found athttps://www.gofundme.com/veasbh5g.