Kikel Meat Packers, a provincially inspected abattoir located on RR No. 1, south of Hwy. 53 between Ponoka and Bashaw, has burned to the ground after a fire broke out on Saturday, March 7.
Owners Rick and Marla Kikel are now dealing with the loss and Rick is recovering after being hospitalized on Saturday.
The Kikels saw smoke just after 1:30 p.m. and Rick went in to investigate, to try to find the source of the fire, but didn’t make it that far before he had to come out.
He suffered from smoke inhalation and was having chest pains and was taken to hospital via ambulance.
After being monitored overnight he was released on Sunday and is “doing fairly well,” but he needs further testing, says Marla.
At some point, either when he dashed into the blaze or during the ambulance ride, Rick lost one of the lenses from his glasses.
Coming into town to get a new pair was just one more thing the couple has had to deal with since the fire.
“It’s just very stressful,” Marla said to Ponoka News on March 11.
“It’s hard to deal with … it’s hard to wrap our heads around.”
At this point the couple does not have a plan for moving forward, and is just trying to take “one day at a time.”
The couple had insurance on the building, which completely burned to the ground, and now will just have to wait and see how that process unfolds.
The Bashaw Fire Department was paged out at 1:48 p.m. and responded with a pumper and water tender and rescue, according to deputy fire chief Dustin Hemingson.
Water tenders from New Norway and Ferintosh fire departments where also requested on the initial page as mutual aid, and both departments attended the scene.
On route, mutual aid from Ponoka County Regional Fire Services was requested, and they sent a pumper and water tender with some added firefighters.
The Alix Fire Department also responded with an additional water tender and crew upon request.
The Bashaw Fire Department was last to leave the scene at about 9 p.m.
The couple are grateful for their customers, neighbours, and the firefighters who worked hard to ensure the flames didn’t reach their home, which is on the same property as the abattoir.
“They did a wonderful job.”
They are also grateful to the Hartland Hutterite Colony, which is 2.5 miles from the Kikels, for supplying water for the pumper trucks so they didn’t have to go to Bashaw to fill up.
At this point it may not be possible to pinpoint the cause of the fire, as the scene was disrupted by a track hoe that needed to come in to help fight the flames, as well as some things being moved around while crews worked to bring the fire under control, says Marla.
Rick and Marla Kikel started Kikel Meat Packers almost 38 years ago.
The main part of the building was built 35 years ago and an addition was added 25 years ago..
The Kikels want to let people know that BK Pure Country Meats, owned by their son Brett, is still in operation and was unaffected by the fire, as he has purchased Pigeon Lake Poultry Processors and was no longer operating out of Kikel Meat Packers.