SILVANA — A small-town icon was gutted by a fire that investigators suspect was an arson early Sunday morning.
Flames were shooting out the front door and windows of the Silvana Mercantile when District 19 Fire Chief Keith Strotz arrived a little after 3:30 a.m.
The intensity of the fire worried him that adjacent buildings, including the food bank and Viking Hall, could be in danger.
Strotz summoned a second alarm, which drew five other nearby fire districts, including more than 30 firefighters, six engines, eight tenders and six support units.
"The crews did an awesome job of knocking the fire down in the beginning," Strotz said.
The Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate. Strotz said that fire investigators consider the fire’s cause suspicious and are trying to determine if it was arson.
No damage estimates were available, but the building is considered a total loss.
Over the years, the mercantile reflected the changing times that have affected many downtown stores in small towns.
"That was the general store since I was a kid growing up in the ’50s," said District 19 fire commissioner Mark Winterhalter. "In those days, you could buy just about anything in there."
The mercantile once served as a general store, stocking rubber boots, hardware, fishing gear, farming supplies, candy, groceries and ice cream.
Most of the local farmers had running store accounts there, Winterhalter said.
But over time, it eventually became more of a convenience store, and it lost some of its community touch.
Still, seeing it go will be jarring for folks in town who have grown up with the cement-block building.
"It was a landmark," Winterhalter said. "All of a sudden, something like that disappears and it changes the whole landscape."
Reporter Scott Morris: 425-339-3292 or email@example.com.
Michael Masson photo