Stubborn fire continues to smoulder at abandoned Victoria hotel
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, May 8, 2019 11:01AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 8, 2019 1:15PM PDT
For a third straight day, firefighters were putting out hot spots and assessing the damage after a major fire tore through an abandoned hotel in downtown Victoria.
Smoke still lingered in the downtown core after the Plaza Hotel on Government Street burst into flames Monday. The cause of the fire has not been determined.
City and fire officials said they were still concerned for Mike Draeger, the on-site caretaker of the hotel, who remained unaccounted for two days after the fire broke out.
Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce said crews were "conscious of the possibility" that Draeger may have been in the building at the time.
"We're gingerly taking our time and certainly conscious of that fact," said Bruce.
"We've done everything humanly possible to try and determine if we could locate anybody in that building."
Police confirmed to CTV News that Draeger had not yet been accounted for and asked anybody with knowledge of his whereabouts to contact them.
Bruce said crews were still trying to access parts of the fire-ravaged building that they hadn't been unable to get to previously, while at the same time conserving water due to the amount already used to combat the blaze.
Victoria engineering director Fraser Work said the stability of the structure was also of concern to crews working on the fire.
"The next move here is to hook up a cable to the fourth floor and pull that in to the internal part of the structure, in order to remove the risk of collapse," Work said.
"We're working with the fire teams to remove risk of collapse from up high, then take that debris and move it out, so that we can expose the area to get water on the fire."
Engineers and demolition experts are advising the city on the best course of action.
"Really the success of all of this relies on the experience and qualifications and knowledge of everyone involved," Work said.
Lingering smoke and poor air quality was also still a concern Wednesday, and City Hall remained closed for a third straight day as a result.
While a cause has not yet been determined, Bruce did not rule out the possibility that the fire may have been human-caused.
"That fire was either burning undetected for a long time or there was rapid fire spread," he said, adding that investigators will look into whether accelerants may have been used.
Work said the owner of the Plaza Hotel was in contact and working with city officials.