CRAIK, Sask.– A town of about 500 people is standing strong after its most renowned attraction burned to the ground. The Craik Eco-Centre went up in flames around 9:30 a.m. CT Thursday in the middle of an off-the-grid community with about 20 homes.
The Eco-Centre received province-wide recognition for its use of sustainable building materials and energy-efficient design including recycled wood from an old mill, walls lined with straw and composting toilets.
“It attracted people. That building is the reason that we are here,” said Brent Kreuger, one of the residents of the community known as the Craik Eco-Village.
Kreuger called 911 after he saw the fire nearby. He noticed white smoke filtering out of the roof of the building while he was on his adjacent property.
No one was hurt, but the centre is considered a total loss. The facility cost more than $1 million to build and included countless hours of work from volunteers.
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The cause of the blaze is unknown. Investigators are expected to be at the site on Monday, according to town councillor David Ashdown.
“It was a mark of pride. People knew about Craik because of the Eco-Centre,” Ashdown said.
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Built in 2004 and located about 120 kilometres northwest of Regina, the centre housed a conference centre, golf pro shop and the Solar Garden Restaurant.
“Someone who had a good business and it was growing and it was improving and there were lots of bookings already in for 2016,” Ashdown said.
There have been no decisions about a possible rebuild, but Kreuger isn’t opposed to the idea.
“A lot of people are coming together again because they turned around and said ‘oh we’ve got to do something,’” Kreuger said.