New Sooke distillery gutted by early morning fire
VICTORIA -- A newly opened distillery business in Sooke has been destroyed in an early morning fire.
Dozens of firefighters were called to the scene in the 2000-block of Idlemore Road just before 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Callers reported seeing flames and hearing explosions from the scene.
Sooke fire Chief Kenn Mount says fire crews found the Island Shiners distillery building fully engulfed upon arrival.
"(There were) tons of different types of flammable, ignitable liquids that we needed to be concerned about," said Mount. "That’s why we do and focus more on pre-incident planning work so we’re aware of changes to businesses and the type of storage of hazards that are on-site."
Approximately 33 firefighters, including mutual aid from Metchosin, East Sooke and Otter Point, fought the flames. The building is a complete loss, Mount said.
The owners of the business were on scene Tuesday morning. While the business was insured, it's still a blow to everyone involved.
"This business was three years in the making," said Karen Moss, president of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce. "They were ready for COVID-friendly, they had their patios opening up, they had their staff hired, and to have it burn to the ground less than a month after opening (is tragic)."
Island Shiners just celebrated its grand opening on April 15.
There are seven breweries and distilleries located in Sooke, and the local chamber of commerce says they play a vital role in the region's tourism industry.
"My heart goes out to Island Shiners, I know how much hard work is put into building a distillery and getting it up and running," said Jason MacIsaac, owner of Sheringham Distillery.
"These businesses like distilleries and breweries are definitely another draw that adds to the vibrancy of the area, so this is definitely a loss," he said.
No one was hurt in the fire and firefighters are still investigating the cause of the blaze.