Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen expects a home heavily damaged by fire will be demolished “at the earliest opportunity”.
“In speaking with the representative of the owner, I’ve been assured the building will be demolished at the earliest opportunity,” Jensen said. “We have spoken with staff and certainly will expedite a demolition permit.”
The Oak Bay, Saanich, and Victoria fire departments tackled the blaze at 57 Beach Drive for four hours from around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night (June 3).
More than 20 firefighters from three departments battled the blaze for four hours late Sunday.
“That seamless cooperation ensures we have effective fire protection in Oak Bay,” Jensen.
The house had been vacant since a fire in 2013 and was covered in graffiti.
“The complaints were that people had broken into it or could be seen inside from time to time. There was no evidence that there was ever any squatters,” Jensen said.
In a case where a building has significant damage, more than 75 per cent destroyed or the building is unsafe and in danger of collapsing, there is the ability to move forward with a demolition request by the community, Jensen said. This building did not apply after the 2013 fire. The district issued a permit to restore the building in February of this year.
Oak Bay fire and police keep an eye on empty buildings and there is a bylaw ensuring buildings are secure, said Cockle. The owner of the house has been compliant with those bylaws, he added.
“From our perspective it’s suspicious in nature based on the realities of what’s in the building,” said Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle. “We don’t believe it was deliberately set at all.”
Based on the intensity of the fire, officials are confident the origin of the blaze is on the second floor, what was previously the living room area, but can’t move forward with investigation of a specific cause.
“We know where the fire started but because of the structural integrity of the building it’s not safe to go in,” said Cockle.
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