The blaze broke out just before 4 a.m. Thursday and quickly spread through two bridal stores in the 600 block of Columbia, destroying the E.L. Lewis building, which owner Terry McBride says has belonged to his family for more than 100 years.
At least one major explosion occurred before the building collapsed and fire crews from New Westminster, Delta and Burnaby continue the battle to save other heritage buildings on the same block.
New Westminster Councillor Jaime McEvoy chairs New Westminster's Community Heritage Commission and calls the blaze the greatest loss suffered since the Great Fire of 1898 ravaged one third of the city's waterfront and downtown core.
Several major streets through the area will remain closed indefinitely.
A cause of the fire has not been determined. (CKNW)
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