BONNERS FERRY — The Wild Horse Mercantile, owned by Ray and Beth Holmes, has been a haven for hungry and thirsty people since 2011, also providing locals with a convenient place to buy gas and groceries, and travelers a place to find souvenirs and gifts with a local flare.
The business, located in the Round Prairie area on U.S. 95, caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday, Oct. 9.
A lady who rented the upstairs apartment had been inside when the fire started. According to Hall Mountain Fire Chief Brad Lowther, she received burns to her arms and legs while escaping the burning building. Once out, she called and reported the fire.
Around 3 a.m., Hall Mountain Volunteer Fire Department received the call the Wild Horse Mercantile was burning. Hall Mountain Firefighter Ben Huff was first on the scene.
“I could not believe how involved it already was,” said Huff, who has been a firefighter for two years. “I fell back on my training and gave a report over the radio, then I started moving propane tanks away from the building.”
Huff said that the rest of the firefighters arrived with the trucks shortly after him. On arrival, Lowther said the restaurant portion of the building was fully engulfed.
Boundary Ambulance and the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene, and the Yahk-Kingsgate Fire Department from Canada was called on for mutual aid, to assist Hall Mountain. They responded with a water tender and personnel.
“They were so fantastic to work with,” said Hall Mountain Firefighter Sandy Steinhagen. “Very professional and skillful.”
The firefighters fought the blaze for five or six hours, eventually being able to save part of the building.
“I feel bad about the loss,” said Lowther. “Our folks did a good job and they saved what they could.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.