North Bay Walmart fire evacuates store

Damage estimated to be in the millions; store to stay closed Saturday

A fire inside North Bay Walmart Friday night appears to have started in the men's winter coat section. Supplied Photo jpg, NB

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North Bay Fire and Emergency Services responded to a fire inside Walmart Friday night.

Store employees said they were evacuated after what looked like a fire inside a clothing rack in the men’s wear department.

One employee said it appeared the fire started in the men’s winter coat section.

Betty Tomatuk says she was finishing up her shopping in Walmart at about 9:30 p.m. when her niece informed her there was a fire.

“We were just heading to pick up some men’s socks and my niece said ‘Aunt Betty, I think there’s a fire over there.’”

She was right.

“I yelled out ‘There’s a fire,’ but nobody heard me so I ran around looking for an employee,” Tomatuk recalls.

“I couldn’t find anyone right away and then I saw a guy waxing the floors. I ran up to him and was yelling that there was a fire in the men’s department.”

Within seconds, the fire alarms were sounding and shoppers started to evacuate the store.

“The workers told us to leave our carts and get outside.”

When she turned back to see if the fire was still billowing, Tomatuk says she was shocked to see how fast it had spread.

“The fire had reached the ceiling and smoke was billowing out from the area.”

Tomatuk quickly left the area with her niece and joined other shoppers being escorted out of the store.

Fire platoon chief Mike Hives told The Nugget the damage is in the millions of dollars.

He confirmed the fire started in the men’s section and North Bay police are investigating.

“The store will definitely not be opening tomorrow (Saturday). When it will reopen remains unknown. They may have to throw out all of their inventory. The loss is in the millions.”

Hives said the Ontario Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate. Security will be on site.

All three fire stations responded to the alarm activation. will update the story as details become available

North Bay Fire and Emergency Services responds to a fire inside Walmart Friday night. Staff and customers were cleared from the store.Supplied Photo jpg, NB