One man is still unaccounted for in relation to the largest downtown Victoria fire that the city has seen in years.
The Victoria Fire Department responded to fire alarms going off at 1411 Government St. at 5:18 a.m. Monday morning, only to quickly realize the fire had in fact come from the neighbour building, 603 Pandora Ave., also known as the Plaza Hotel.
Victoria firefighters entered the building and quickly realized the fire was coming from underneath them in the building’s basement.
“The hallways were very full with black with smoke,” Fire Chief Paul Bruce reported.
Fire members made it to the third floor before evacuating the building, and continued with a defensive attack from outside.
By 11:30 a.m. firefighters had the fire contained and controlled, though so far a cause has not been determined.
The building has officially been unoccupied for years, though neighbours reported often seeing people go in and out of the building and even seeing healthy plants in the windowsills. One man, a caretaker, sometimes lived in the building and according to neighbours also owned the silver Airstream trailer that is parked at the back of the building.
The Victoria Fire Department said no injuries occurred and no indication of occupants were presented, but they are still trying to follow up and track down the caretaker.
“We’ve been reaching out all morning, but we haven’t heard back from him,” Bruce said. “At this point we have been unable to locate him.”
Neighbours were under the impression that the caretaker was away at the time.
“There was a maintenance person taking care of the building, but I think he’s been away for a few days, I haven’t seen him, ” said B. Woodward, owner of the neighbouring Cherry Bomb Toys. “I don’t know if he took off for a few days or if something happened.”
The owner of the building was unable to confirm the caretaker’s whereabouts. Currently the Victoria Police Department has also stepped on board to further investigate the location of the caretaker.
Bruce said that so far the idea of the fire being suspicious has not been ruled out.
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