An Ottawa sporting goods store’s flagship location was completely destroyed after a five-alarm fire “demolished” a downtown building early yesterday morning.

Tommy & Lefebvre vice-president Natalie Tommy said she got a call shortly before 1 a.m. yesterday that the store —which had been located at 464 Bank St. since the ’70s — was on fire.?

By the time she arrived at the building, nearly 100 firefighters with 25 vehicles were fighting the blaze.?

“They did everything they could possibly do, but the fire was going like crazy,” she said. “It just went down. This building is old and full of wood.”?

The damage is estimated at $2 million — $1 million to the structure and $1 million to contents, said Ottawa Fire Platoon Chief Dennis Gobey.

The Ottawa fire department and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office are investigating the cause of the fire.

The fire marshal was called in because of the dollar amount of the damage, said Gobey.
“There is no reason to suspect arson,” he said.

Tommy was on scene for most of the day yesterday, watching fire crews pick through the rubble of her former store.

She said she wanted to be on the scene to meet the staff coming in for their morning shifts, many of whom were in tears when they saw what happened to the store.??

Brian Fiegenwald was scheduled to come in at 9 a.m. yesterday, but heard on the radio in the morning and immediately started e-mailing other co-workers.?

“I’m pretty shocked. I wasn’t sure whether or not to come into work,” he said.

Tommy’s father, Art, opened the first store along with his brothers Andy and Reg Lefebvre in 1958. All three were members of the national ski team.

The Tommy & Lefebvre building was “a very old building,” said Gobey.

“The opportunity for the fire to spread was there, but we were able to contain it.”

This was partially thanks to the two-foot-thick fire walls, which were in the original part of the store. The store had expanded over the years, taking over adjacent shops.

“Crews said there was considerable smoke,” said Gobey. The store was totally destroyed, but there were no injuries.

“It’s a loss to not only the business, but the community,” he said.

Tommy said they hadn’t really thought about what will become of the store, but she said they would like to rebuild at that location.?

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