The Victoria Fire Department saved most of the Spencer Castle from a fire early Thursday morning, but there was still significant damage to the two bottom floors. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Victoria’s Spencer Castle damaged in early morning fire

Crews say foul play not suspected

A century-old Victoria castle was damaged by an early morning fire on Thursday.

The Victoria Fire Department were called out to the 2900-block of Cook Street around 5:30 a.m. for reports of smoke in the area.

Deputy Fire Chief Dan Atkinson said crews arrived to find the Spencer Castle, a 109-year-old heritage building, in flames. No one was inside, but the building had been undergoing renovations and had no fire alerting in place.

Fire crews quickly upgraded the call to a general alarm. Three fire engines, two ladder trucks, a rescue truck, a command truck and 23 firefighters came in to help with “heavy smoke and fire conditions” at the castle.

READ ALSO: Last tweaks to new Victoria fire hall project coming to city council

“It was pretty evident the fire was well established and had been burning for some time,” Atkinson said, adding that the historic building’s ornate wood and decorative paneling can be more combustible than modern materials.

Crews were able to save the majority of the structure, but the bottom two floors sustained significant fire damage and the top two floors have minimal smoke and water damage.

Reaching the fire was a challenge for firefighters, who had to carry equipment up to the castle, located up a hill at the end of a long driveway. Only one fire engine was driven up the driveway, the others stationed nearby.

Atkinson said two firefighters received minor injuries, one from a fall and the other a hand injury.

The fire appears to have started in the basement. The cause is still under investigation but Atkinson said there is nothing to indicate foul play.

READ ALSO: Five significant pieces of Oak Bay history that went up in smoke

The Spencer Castle was built in 1911 by architect Hendry Sandham Griffith, who was responsible for building a number of structures in Victoria, including the Landsberg residence, the Fairfield Hotel and the Strathcona Hotel (previously the Empress Building).



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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