A northern Manitoba town’s rec centre caught fire Wednesday, midway through a major refurbishment.

The Gillam Recreation Centre closed a few months ago to undergo renovations that were expected to be completed in late 2018.

Jackie Clayton, CAO of the Town of Gillam, said workers were on site when the fire broke out around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

She said she was shocked to hear of the fire, and her first thoughts were for the safety of the workers.

“It is just a building, it can be rebuilt,” she said, adding that everyone made it out safely.

Clayton said the fire was brought under control, but firefighters remained on scene into the evening to keep it from flaring up.

She said she wasn’t aware of what caused the fire, and or how badly the building was damaged. 

“There was a lot of stuff already ripped apart,” said Clayton, adding that contractors may be able to assess what was lost in the fire as they were most familiar with the rec centre’s current conditions.

Clayton said the rec centre was a hub for the community: a home to curling, a bowling alley, the town’s library and more.

Fortunately, she said it had been emptied prior to the start of construction, but she expects the timeline for when renovations will be complete will be set back.

“It’s going to be tough on the community, for sure,” she said.