Fire inspectors are still investigating the cause of Thursday's fire that destroyed the Winkler location of Janzen's Paint and Decorating, less than a year after the Steinbach location burned to the ground.
Spokesperson for Janzen's Paint and Decorating, Property Manager for the A.L. Group Arlen Thiessen spoke on Friday about the fire that quickly ravaged the paint and hobby store in Winkler.
"I was getting ready to go home for lunch, drove by the building and noticed kind of a haze, and a smoke, and a smell, and I thought that was suspicious. I didn't get very far before I got a phone call that there was smoke coming out of Janzen's paint building. From there we all made sure everyone got out, we monitored the situation and did a little inventory of staff. Everyone got out safely. From there, we went to the Harval Homes Office and monitored the situation. And watched, as many people did, the flames take over the building and, from here, support each other."
With the direction of the wind, anything South of the building was in the direct line of the smoke deemed to be toxic, due to paint fumes, Thiessen noted.
"In the WBS office, the staff there noticed the smoke coming out of the building and very quickly notified everyone to get out and they got out quickly. All the vehicles got to be moved. Nobody had to leave anything. And then from there, on at Janzen's Paint, luckily from what I've heard, there were no customers in the store, so, they all got out pretty quickly. It went fast from there after that."
He reflected on the feeling in the room as everyone watched helplessly.
"It's an interesting situation, when you look at a building, you've been around for 20 years and helped build. And when it takes nothing but an hour to get rid of. It's pretty emotional. Especially for a business that's had its fair share of lows in the last little while, so that hurts a little bit more."
Winkler is home to the original Janzen's Paint and Decorating Store started in 1992. The business has grown to five locations in Manitoba.
"Doug Janzen started this store on a dream and grew it from there. This is where he started on the ground floor and built it from here, so this is a tough one."
Doug Janzen tragically passed away last summer.
The Steinbach location has recently reopened after a fire destroyed the strip mall July 10, 2022.
Coffee, pizza and baking came from many people in the community on Thursday.
Thiessen remarked there has been strong support from the community.
"Yeah, there's been a great outpouring of support from local businesses and just citizens of Winkler offering space if they need it and trying to house Janzen's Paint, if they need and if they need a little space to work out of. There's been a lot of support and it's really good to see."
He expressed his gratitude for all and made one request.
"I just thank the community for its outreach and support and that they can be continue to be supportive. Give the Janzen's Paint family the space that they need to heal. And another ‘thank you’ to the Winkler Fire department and Morden and Altona Fire Departments who came out and did a fantastic job."