Burner ignites motel fire

Smoke plumes spark response from police, fire crews at Victoria motel

Visitors to Victoria, in town to deal with a family emergency, fell victim to another emergency over the weekend.

Just after 11 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 24), Victoria police officers noticed smoke billowing out of a second-storey motel unit at the Blue Ridge Inn, at 3110 Douglas St.

They investigated and found an empty unit, said Capt. Steve Meikle with the Victoria Fire Department. Using fire extinguishers, they knocked down the flames, but did not extinguish it.

“The fire was well beyond the capability of those extinguishers,” said Meikle, adding he doesn’t condone the officers’ actions.

“They’re going in with no protection at all,” said Meikle. Also, he added, “When our guys (firefighters) arrived, the front door of the unit was still wide open so it was just feeding oxygen back into the building.”

Victoria police Const. Mike Russell defended the officers.

“We’re in charge of protecting life,” he said. The officers acted on information that a family with children had likely rented the unit. “Obviously our officers aren’t going to stand there and wait until the fire department shows up,” said Russell.

The fire was contained to the one unit. Meikle estimated the damage at $20,000 and attributed the fire to a shorted-out control for a burner in the room.

The family had left a half hour earlier. A transit supervisor helped by knocking on doors to alert other guests. He was treated for minor smoke inhalation.