Two weeks before a fire tore through the roof of the Plaza Hotel in downtown Victoria, another fire was reported on the property.
Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce said that a “suspicious fire” was reported in one of the exterior stair wells in the last week of April, and that the Victoria Fire Department had attended the scene.
No one was charged in relation to this fire.
The unoccupied building had also failed two recent fire inspections and was deemed “unsatisfactory” by inspecting firefighters.
The first was on March 21.
Most recently, a fire inspection was scheduled for April 26.
“We checked the fire alarm and security of the building on April 26,” said Bruce. “We were trying to key up a more thorough inspection of building and the property, and I believe this Wednesday, May 8 the owner’s representative was to meet us there to go over the conditions of the alarm system and the fire security.”
An undetermined cause saw the building engulfed in flames Monday morning.
Fire alarms did not go off in the building, but instead neighboring alarm systems alerted the Victoria Fire Department about the blaze.
The building was consumed by flames shortly after the fire started.
“There was a heavy fire load in the basement which leads me to believe that there was a lot of combustible storage down there, and the framed construction of the building certainly contributed to the fire spreading,” Bruce said. “The fire spread was very rapid, but our members did a good job of containing the fire.”
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, but Bruce said the department has not ruled out a suspicious cause.
Even thought he building was unoccupied, neighbours reported people regularly going in and out of the property.
“The building has been a prime target for break-ins,” said B. Woodward, owner of the neighbouring Cherry Bomb Toys. “Things happen and people get curious, it’s a big building. “
Woodward said they didn’t notice anyone going into the building on Sunday night or Monday morning. He also said that a caretaker usually lives in the building, but believed he’d been away at the time of the fire.
The department does not believe anyone was in the building at the time, but are trying to track down the caretaker who has yet to be contacted by anyone.
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