The Meadow Lake and District Arena, which has been a fixture in the community for close to 50 years, was destroyed by an early morning fire Sunday (June 6).

According to city staff, the fire started between midnight and 1 a.m. Fire crews quickly responded and battled the blaze throughout the night. As of this morning, however, the official cause was undetermined.

“There is not much in the way of info yet,” noted city manager Diana Burton.

Fire investigators are expected to be on the scene Monday (June 7).

“Last night, our community experienced an incredible loss when a fire destroyed the Meadow Lake and District Arena,” stated mayor Merlin Seymour. “This arena has been at the heart of Meadow Lake for 45 years. We often heard from visitors what a beautiful and well-kept arena this was for its age, which is a testament to how well it was loved by the people here.”

Seymour went on to say the arena hosted hockey tournaments, rodeos, markets, and concerts – events that brought people together as friends and neighbours.

“I know some of my best memories from the arena include playing old-timer hockey, helping out our local Lions club with its bingo, watching many minor hockey and senior hockey games,” he said. “Thankfully, no one was hurt in last night’s fire. I want to thank the firefighters and emergency responders who put in long hours last night and kept the fire from spreading further.”

Also on hand to witness the fire was Shannon Heddon, manager of the Meadow Lake Curling Club which is located adjacent to the arena. Heddon, after seeing a post about the fire on social media, raced to the scene around 3 a.m.

“We were worried the fire may be getting close to the curling rink, and thought we would try to take some memorabilia out of the building if we could,” Heddon explained. “My grandchild woke me up in the night, and that’s how I just happened to go online and see the (social media) post at that hour. When we arrived, it was total devastation.”

Heddon went on to say her first concern was if anyone was hurt.

“I grew up with that arena as well, so it was sad to see,” she said. “I am more worried now about how many people’s jobs could be affected by something like this… We were there for a few hours, and once we saw the fire was contained we left. The arena was able to salvage a few things, so we were luckily able to put some of that stuff inside the curling rink. I am glad we were there to be able to help them with that.”

As for what will happen next, Seymour said, eventually, the city will need to look to the future.

“I know this community will come together as we always do, but for today let’s honour our good memories and grieve the loss of this part of our shared history,” he said.

For the full story see this Thursday’s (June10) edition of Northern Pride.

by Phil Ambroziak