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  

Just Posted

Studies for E&N corridor still on track after BC Transit investments

Recent investment in bus fleet expansion doesn’t slow studies into alternative transportation routes

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake

RCMP are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Officer: Women shouldn’t be afraid on Vancouver Island trails

Kris Greffard is posting short videos to show you how to stay safe

Editorial: New road could be key to future growth for Lake Cowichan

It could be a good way to increase the vibrancy of the community

Off-the-grid West Coast Trail restaurant Chez Monique featured on film

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Nanaimo tubber sets all-time record at bathtub race

Justin Lofstrom completes course in fastest-ever time

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Most Read