This photo, posted to social media Sunday shows extensive damage to the dining room at Deep Cove Chalet after a fire broke out in the North Saanich restaurant late Saturday evening. (Submitted)

This photo, posted to social media Sunday shows extensive damage to the dining room at Deep Cove Chalet after a fire broke out in the North Saanich restaurant late Saturday evening. (Submitted)

Fire damages Deep Cove Chalet in North Saanich

Decades-old fine dining restaurant on the water suffered interior damage

A fire that broke out at Deep Cove Chalet, a decades-old fine dining restaurant in North Saanich Saturday evening has left the iconic establishment with an estimated $100,000 in damage.

The fire, which started in the kitchen and traveled through an exhaust vent to the roof, inflicted significant damage to the interior of the restaurant at 11190 Chalet Road.

According to Fire Chief John Trelford, of the North Saanich Fire Department, the owners and one employee were inside just finishing up for the evening when the blaze broke out, Trelford said.

“They hit it with an extinguisher and then they started using a garden hose until our guys got there,” Trelford explained. “They did an amazing job.”

The restaurant, perched right at the edge of the water at Deep Cove, has been a staple on the Island for 46 years.

“It’s crazy that place didn’t just go up in flames,” Trelford said. “It’s definitely an iconic location in North Saanich.”

The Town of Sidney Volunteer Fire Department tweeted Saturday at 11:25 p.m. saying crews from Central Saanich and North Saanich fire departments were on scene with them responding to a commercial structure fire on Chalet Road.

By 1:28 am, the department tweeted again, saying the fire was clear.

Surveying the damage Sunday morning, owners Pierre and Bev Koffel called the events of the weekend “surreal” and pledged to rebuild immediately.

Residents from around the region have been dropping by to check in on the couple, who had been preparing to host a 65th birthday party that – along with several other bookings – has been cancelled, Bev said.

Longtime guest Donna Thomas remembers Pierre reassuring her first husband not to worry when he forgot his credit card after they dined there, some 40 years ago.

When she remarried, Thomas held the ceremony at the Chalet, calling it a “social hub” for those in the community.

“It’s devastating to see this,” she said Sunday morning, standing outside the restaurant.

Christopher Considine, who also stopped by Sunday to offer support, said his four children were christened at the Chalet.

Grateful for the outpouring of community support, Bev said she hopes to cover their staff of eight employees through insurance while the restaurant undergoes repairs.

The couple is unsure whether they’ll be back in business before Christmas. “But, Pierre may surprise everyone,” Bev said.

-With files from Wolf Depner

kristyn.anthony@blackpress.ca