Firefighters continued to combat hot spots Thursday at the Plaza Hotel fire at 603 Pandora Ave. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

4 million gallons of water used on downtown Victoria fire so far

Firefighters continue to battle hot spots four days after it began

Four days after a fire engulfed a downtown hotel property, the Victoria Fire Department is still pumping water onto smouldering hot spots.

Since early Monday morning firefighters sprayed over 4 million gallons of water onto the Plaza Hotel at 603 Pandora Ave. While much of this water evaporated, high levels of runoff ran into storm drains and, as a result, the Inner Harbour.

“Fighting fires is an industrial process and you do get contaminants running from it, without a doubt,” said John Roe, co-founder of the Veins of Life Watershed Society. “Lead, mercury, zinc cadmium… a lot of these old buildings were painted again and again and again.”

Heavy metal pollutants, hydrocarbons, debris and any fire retardants used would also end up in the water. The fire department is still trying to determine if any asbestos was in the building.

ALSO READ: Downtown Victoria building failed two fire inspections before catching fire

Roe said that fires are well-documented sources of pollution that can really only be managed if there are tools on site to reclaim any water runoff, such as specialized pumps, which are not readily available in the Capital Region.

The Canadian Coast Guard went to work on Monday to take preventative measures, sending out 300 feet of boom into the Inner Harbour to contain dirty water and possible pollutants.

The boom was removed on Wednesday morning after no signs of hydrocarbons were found within the boom boundary.

READ MORE: Walls come down at site of downtown Victoria fire

A report from the Canadian Coast Guard to the Victoria Fire Department said that no surface pollutants were detected, however more testing needs to be done to look at pollutants at deeper levels, as well as in the air.

The City of Victoria has hired West Coast Environmental Testing to determine air quality hazards, and is working with the CRD to test the water.

“We’re continuing to test to make sure that the debris that’s been entrained in the water from the firefighting effort is understood and that we can manage that to the best of our abilities,” said Fraser Work, director of engineering for the city. “This is an active fire and and active emergency zone, so in some cases there’s very little we can do except test, and then communicate with people of what hazards exist before we can do anything to mitigate.”

This isn’t the first fire to potentially affect local waterways; Roe recalled a fire in 2000 off Bay Street that saw pollution levels in the Gorge go up for a short period of time.

Thursday afternoon, the city was continuing its efforts to extinguish the Plaza Hotel fire, and bring down unstable walls before an investigation into the cause can begin. The missing caretaker, Mike Daeger, is still unaccounted for.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Pacific FC signs 24-year-old defensive midfielder from Panama

González joins the roster following the team’s 2-2 tie game against York9 FC.

Pacific FC game ends with tie against York9 on Saturday

PFC’s defender scored an own goal off a deflection, putting the game at 2-2

Mighty Garage Sale offers boost to Metchosin groups

Metchosin Community Association holds annual sale on May 25 and 26

Victoria police investigate dumpster fire in gated alleyway in

VicPD and Victoria Fire Department respond to fire on Johnson Street

Famed Syrian artist displays paintings created while living in refugee camps

Farid Abdulbaki’s ‘Between Two Worlds’ exhibit will be displayed May 24-26 in Victoria

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Most Read