Tammy Kenney had just closed up shop Thursday evening (March 10) at the Winfield Bakery and set out to do some after-work errands when she received a devastating text message.
Her business, which she and her husband bought five years ago to the month, was on fire.
“We had just left at 6 p.m. and we were in a hurry to get out, as we always are,” explained Kenney. “I got the text as I pulled into my underground parking and I just turned around and came right back.”
Smoke could be seen billowing above Berry Road around 6:20 p.m. and fire crews arrived on the scene to flames coming from the front of the bakery.
Kenney employs 15 staff at the bakery, all of which were handed their record of employment the day after the fire so they could apply for employment insurance as soon as possible, with Kenney making up the difference she said.
“We are just worried about staff, they are so vital,” said Kenney. “They are such a team and we don’t want to lose them, we have to get back up and running real quick.”
A GoFundMe has been started by the previous owner of the Winfield Bakery, Fritz Priwall, to help the owners and staff during this time.
“We are thinking of leasing the building across the street in the interim because we have to be open,” said Kenney.
The beloved business has been in operation for over 45 years and was a staple in the community of Lake Country.
“If anyone knows anyone who can help us put in a bathroom across the street we need one to get up and running,” explained Kenney.
Her business is insured and she believes the fridges survived the fire and will be usable again.
Kenney and her husband John had lived in Alberta previously and worked in the oil industry, but after losing their jobs the two decided to make a change.
John always loved baking, so when they travelled to the Okanagan a few weeks before moving, the opportunity arose to take over the bakery and they jumped on it.
The bakery was an iconic business on Main Street off Highway 97 and many community members took to social media to express their condolences following the fire.
Jennifer Oram said, the bakery was her daughter’s first job at 15 and that Fritz took a chance on her when she wanted to be a baker.
“And then Tammy was so sweet as well when they took over the business.”
It was also Michelle Miller’s first job 30 years ago.
“I literally don’t know where to buy bread and buns now. For 30 years, that’s been my family’s go-to place,” said Angelika Offenwanger.
The cause of the fire is under investigation but is believed to be accidental in nature.