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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds of wax figures find new life in Saanich man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Oak Bay wins Vancouver Island basketball championship

Third-place NDSS will get to challenge second place Claremont for a berth in provincials

Peninsula Eagles will host Midget T2 provincial championships

Provincial championships will take place at Panorama Recreation March 15 to 19

UPDATED: Hit and run results in damaged fire hydrant, flooding on Richmond Road

Registered owner issued $360 ticket, responsible for repair costs

Saanich’s senior race car driver not slowing down

Bill Okell kicks off 2020 season at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California on Feb. 21

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Most Read