A Fernie business owner is determined to stay positive as he grapples with the aftermath of a fire that caused extensive smoke damage and temporarily closed his store.
GearHub owner Mark Hall has operated the popular sporting goods store on 1st Avenue for eight years but has been forced to shut down for several weeks due to the incident.
A faulty lithium ion battery cell in an electric mountain bike has been blamed for the fire, which broke out in the rear of the business just before 8 p.m. on July 2.
Quick-thinking staff who were at the store after-hours were able to put out the fire using an extinguisher.
They have been credited with saving the business.
“If it was left unattended, the store would have burnt down,” said Hall.
Hall said the fire was small but fierce, producing plenty of heat and causing more smoke than actual fire damage.
GearHub is operating a modified service shop while the clean up continues and isn’t expected to fully reopen until towards the end of the month.
The incident could cost the business hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue with July being one of the busiest months of the year for local retailers.
Hall admits the past two weeks have been “brutal”, however, he is determined to stay positive.
“It’s a very stressful process but I really count my blessings,” he said.
“No one was hurt and, really, the store could have burnt down.”
While it may take three weeks to a month for GearHub to return to normal operations, Hall is grateful he and his staff still have a store to go back to.
“We will roll with the punches and make the best of it as we always do,” he said.
GearHub is planning a grand reopening with a “fire sale” event, where it will be clearing out all items that have been professionally cleaned and restored.
The store is also being upgraded while cleaning is underway.
“It’s been probably the most stressful experience of my life but I know everything is going to work out,” said Hall.
“We’re going to be able to have this huge event and give the community the most amazing deals on the most amazing gear, and turn this into a positive for locals and turn this into a positive for GearHub and our staff.
“Our store is getting cleaned from top to bottom, so we’re going to have the cleanest store in town.”
GearHub will continue to stock electric bikes, despite the incident.
Hall said while technology always carried a risk, cell failure in e-bikes was “so extremely rare”.
He has thanked his staff and customers for their support during this difficult time.
“At least 20 customers asked me if they could come and sweep or mop or clean,” he said.
“Everyone is so very giving.”