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  

City of Victoriafire

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach man arrested over racist incident at Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP said the man turned himself in

B.C. Ferries says Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay sailings filling up fast

Tsawwassen-Duke Point may be a better alternative between June 4 and 7, says ferry corporation

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Vancouver Islanders gathering to rally for Black lives

‘To speak up, all you need is a voice and the will to be heard’

VIDEO: View Royal resident spots cougar in nearby backyard

B.C. Conservation notified about early Thursday morning sighting

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

No lifeguards this summer for some popular Island swimming spots, no swimming at all for others

Fears of risk to health and safety during COVID-19 pandemic partly to blame

No architect for Langford building ruled ‘unreasonable’ by B.C. Supreme Court

Legal action brought against City in 2019 for permit issued on Hoffman Avenue building

Number of property sales down by 40 per cent when compared to last year

Value of single-family home, condominium in Victoria up from last year despite pandemic

3 people found violating court imposed curfews in Cowichan

People are placed on curfews for a variety of public safety reasons.

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Most Read