Sunday marked the anniversary of a dark date in Kindersley's history - January 8th.
On that day 7 years ago, a fire sparked in the town's old skating rink which led to severe damages to the structure. The fire would lead to the removal of what was left from the blaze, and the eventual replacement of a new rink known now as the Co-op Arena.
At the time, the Saskatchewan Scotties Tournament of Hearts Women's Curling Championship was being held at the rink. Residents were being evacuated from homes and schools near the complex when the fire broke out that morning.
Kindersley Fire Department received the call at approximately 10:00 that morning as members quickly made their way to the fire hall. As firefighters prepared to leave the hall to fight the blaze, Fire Chief Ron Hope was already on the phone requesting for help from neighbouring towns due to the fire's size.
"We had Kerrobert on route, and we requested Eatonia, Eston, and Rosetown for assistance," said Hope. "The decision was made very quickly due to the speed the fire was growing."
Flames were out the back door, above the roof, and even travelling along the roofline and out the front entrance. The fear of the fire transitioning over to the West Central Events Centre was now on the minds of fire crews, and they came up with a plan quickly. Luckily, a lobby with fire doors linking the two buildings was in between.
"We immediately knew the only chance we had of saving the Events Centre from the devastation of the fire was to remove the common link in between," explained Hope. "The track hoe was on scene by 11:00 A.M., and we started to remove the link out of there to prevent the heat from doing major damage to the fire wall."
The building would burn to the ground in under an hour. Houses near the blaze felt the impact that day; windows were shattered, siding was warped, and the danger of the fire erupting again was a possibility. The area was under surveillance 24 hours a day for a week after the flames were put out by crews.
Residents can distinctly remember the sights and sounds from that faithful day including Kindersley's fire chief. "I clearly, to this day, remember the sound of the arch beams as they were starting to collapse and sounding like dominoes going over," said Hope. "It's different things you remember, right through to the propane exploding on the zamboni."
So, how did the town react after the fire? To put it simply, the community kept their heads up and bounced back rapidly.
Despite the destruction to a significant part of the community, residents and organizations teamed up to raise funds for a new arena. "The community wanted to get the game going and get the new facility up and running as quickly as possible," mentioned Hope. "People were willing to do what they needed to do and get a rink constructed and back in service."
Now when people drive along 2nd Avenue East, they witness the Co-op Arena standing in its place; complete with a running track on the second floor and a massive lobby connecting both arenas. No doubt it is truly inspirational to witness the sense of community present in the building from the hard work and number of donations received from residents, companies, organizations, and surrounding communities to bring back a staple structure to the town.