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Sask. village loses arena in late night 'inferno'

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The Village of Liberty is grieving the loss of its rink after it fell victim to a late night 'inferno' over the weekend.

“It was an inferno. It was a total inferno. All you could see was flames.”

That’s how Gordon Shields described the sight of the Liberty Rink ablaze late Saturday night.

Shields, who has lived in Liberty since 2007, was the first to notice the fire.

“My wife and I were laying in bed, reading a book and all the sudden I heard this weird noise. It sounded like a tornado a long ways away,” he said.

“I looked out of our upstairs bedroom window and I saw the arena was in flames on the west end.”

The fire spread quick, with flames reaching 60 to 80 feet high.

“By the time I got out here, which was minutes, the fire had spread from the west end down to the east end,” Shields explained.

“It’s a 200 foot building I suppose, so it was moving fast.”

According to Shields, firefighters were on the scene within minutes.

“So there was about six to eight fire trucks here and probably 20 fireman,” he said.

In addition to Liberty's fire department, fire crews from Holdfast, Imperial and Davidson responded to the blaze.

"It's amazing, the amount of support you get from local small towns. It's unbelievable. Like without them we wouldn't have had as much luck last night as we did," Liberty fire chief Kyle Mooney told CTV News.

However, even with the quick response, nothing could have saved the rink.

“They had it under control pretty quick but the arena was gone, there was nothing they could do," Shields said.

"So they were just making sure they saved the pump house and making sure nothing spread.”

The primary concern was the community's water treatment plant, which was full of chemicals and located right beside the blazing inferno.

Fortunately, it was undamaged during the fire.

"Our main focus last night and this morning was just saving that treatment plant because without that we have no water in town," Mooney said.

Liberty’s arena had been condemned for the past several years. Regardless, the loss is being felt in the small community.

“It's a pretty big loss. It hasn't been used much in the last five years. But when it was up and running, a lot of local kids would use it lots and it was a nice place to hang out and have fun as a kid," Mooney explained.

The community remembers the rink as a gathering place with cherished memories.

“We always had good times in the arena with recreational skating,” Shields said.

“This building will be missed.”

While one of the community’s main markers may be gone, Shields explained that he’s just thankful for the actions of the volunteer fire crews.

“Kudos and thank you to the volunteer firefighters, they got here quickly,” he said. “They had control of it within probably 20 minutes, so a job well done to them.”

According to Mooney, no injuries were caused by the fire.

"Everyone went home safe. Everyone is safe right now. So that's all we can be thankful for."

Liberty is located approximately 115 kilometres northwest of Regina.

With files from CTV News’ Luke Simard.

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