Moksana Yoga and Healing Centre is just next door to the remains of the Plaza Hotel. Signs posted on temporary fences warn about poor air quality, a problem that several Moksana clients have noticed. (Nicole Crescenzi/ News Staff)

Downtown Victoria businesses feel the burn of neighbouring fire

Local businesses see a drop in sales following the Plaza Hotel Fire

Downtown businesses are feeling the impact of a neighbouring fire nine days after the blaze started.

On May 6 the Plaza Hotel at 603 Pandora Ave. was engulfed in what Victoria Police are now calling a suspicious fire.

Smoke and water damage has shut down both the SATVA Spa and the Royal Victoria Suites for an undisclosed amount of time, while other businesses were closed for several days.

READ MORE: Downtown Victoria fire deemed ‘suspicious’

Moksana Yoga Studio had only been in its new location at 613 Pandora Ave. for six months when the fire hit its neighbour. While smoke didn’t damage the newly-renovated business’s structure, the stench is still affecting some clients.

“Some students who are more sensitive to smells aren’t able to come in,” said Ida Winter, owner of Moksana. “There’s been a huge drop in attendance, and one student had to leave class recently because her throat was starting to be affected.”

ALSO READ: Downtown Victoria building failed two fire inspections before catching fire

Ida said that thankfully their business had good insurance which is paying for a restoration company to remove the smoky odor once the remains of the fire are fully removed.

“If there’s a lesson here, it’s that not having insurance is foolish,” Winter said.

Camouflage Military Surplus at 1407 Government St. is two doors down from the Plaza Hotel, but still opened just days after the fire.

“We have a pretty loyal customer base, so when we got the go-ahead to reopen the doors we figured why not?” said Anton Shipley, general manager, adding they had to take precautionary measures. “We had to wear masks for a couple of days.”

Shipley added that rather than see a dip in business, the spectacle of the fire actually brought more people in.

ALSO READ: 4 million gallons of water used on downtown Victoria fire so far

As far as further concerns, Shipley wasn’t too worried since his staff are always diligent with their own fire prevention strategies.

“Plus, the hotel can’t burn down twice,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

Varsha Indian Kitchen at 1600 Government St. sits kitty-corner to the Plaza Hotel and was thankfully closed on the day the fire hit.

While the building wasn’t damaged by smoke, closed roads and lingering smells have slashed the business’s usual numbers.

“It’s actually dramatically slower,” said Arun Dodd, owner of Varsha. “The smell is just starting to leave, but for days we were going home after work smelling like smoke.”

Business is likely to pick up this week as Government Street re-opened to traffic Wednesday morning. The smoky smell is likely to stay for weeks, however, as investigators continue to inspect the scene and determine the cause of the fire.

ALSO READ: One man missing in relation to downtown Victoria fire

Inspectors are also searching for evidence of the building’s caretaker, Mike Draeger, who has been unaccounted for since the fire broke out.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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Local businesses like Camouflage (the white building) continue to feel the effects of the Plaza Hotel fire (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff) Moksana Yoga and Healing Centre is just next door to the remains of the Plaza Hotel. Signs posted on temporary fences warn about poor air quality, a problem that several Moksana clients have noticed. (Nicole Crescenzi/ News Staff)

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