'Businesses can be replaced, people can't': Long-time Elgin County business destroyed in late night fire
McBain Signs was destroyed by fire on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (Brent Lale / CTV London)
LONDON, ONT -- McBain Signs was destroyed by fire, but working smoke alarms may have saved the lives of the businesses owners who reside in a home attached to the workshop.
Just before 11 p.m. Saturday night owner Melanie McBain was awakened by a beeping noise coming from the shop on the south end of their home.
"We were sleeping," says Jamie McBain, president of the business on John Wise Line in Central Elgin.
"Melanie heard the beeping, and by that time smoke was already filling up the house."
A call was placed to 911. Within 12 minutes, two Central Elgin fire stations along with Malahide Fire arrived at the rural residence.
"Suppression activity started within three minutes and were able to save the residence," says Chris McDonough, Central Elgin fire chief.
"We were fortunate the bay area vented out of there right away, so that made it easier for us to contain it from going toward the house. There was some separation there, but they were able to get it knocked down."
McDonough added they were lucky a propane tank used for the radiant heater on the back of the workshop didn't explode.
McBain praised the quick response of the fire crews saying the whole house would have gone up if they didn't arrive so quickly.
Sunday morning, McBain along with his production manager Bernie Quiring were assessing the damage.
"They salvaged most of the place which is incredible," says Quiring.
"We are a very custom shop so we lost a lot of print media, high end printers, computer programs, computers, shop tools and LED Boxes. There was a lot of wrap material for vehicles as well inside.
He did say because the fire fighters knocked down the fire quickly, they were able to salvage a lot of data on the computers.
"Businesses can be replaced, people can't so that's the most important thing," added Quiring.
McBain signs has been in business for 37 years, and in its current location since 1987.
Jamie McBain says they do have insurance and he's thankful no one was injured.
However he was crushed when looking toward his charred workshop.
"It's just sad to see it end up like this."