Firefighters from the Victoria Fire Department battled the blaze from 603 Pandora Ave. on May 6, 2019 (File submitted/Marco Crescenzi)

Downtown Victoria fire deemed ‘suspicious’

The Plaza Hotel fire will now be subject to a large-scale investigation

Victoria Police say that the downtown Plaza Hotel fire on May 6 is now considered suspicious.

One week after a blaze engulfed the building at 603 Pandora Ave. detectives from the VicPD Major Crime Unit were able to attain a search warrant and get on scene on Monday afternoon to work with Victoria Fire Department investigators.

Unspecified evidence on scene raised red flags for investigators, confirming concerns put forward by Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce who told Black Press that the fire had “either [been] burning undetected for a long time, or there was rapid fire spread.”

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

Victoria Police spokesperson Const. Matt Rutherford said that now “significant resources” will be used to further investigate the fire. The investigation is set to take several weeks.

In the meantime, no evidence has come forward about missing caretaker Mike Draeger, who is presently considered “unaccounted for” by the Victoria Police.

Draeger was the live-in caretaker of the building who, according to a friend, occupied a suite on the third floor. Initially firefighters attempted to search the building on foot, but soon realized the fire was underneath them and had to evacuate the building before reaching the top floor.

ALSO READ: Ontario woman says missing caretaker in downtown Victoria fire is her stepson

The Victoria Fire Department used drones and aerial ladders to search for evidence of a person in the building, but did not find anything. More searches of the basement and the rubble will continue as part of the investigation.

On Sunday, May 12 a second fire was found in the 1300-block of Broad Street. The Victoria Fire Department is continuing to investigate the fire, but at this point has no evidence to indicate that the two fires are connected.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

fire

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria charities organize physically distanced tent, sleeping bag drive

Neighbourhood Response Team accepts sleeping bags, mats and tents Saturday in Victoria

UPDATED: Crash snarls early morning Malahat traffic

Incident backed up commuters near Okotoks Drive

Frontline volunteers bring handwashing stations to Pandora tent city and beyond

‘The basic premise of this is to fight COVID-19 … right?’

West Shore podcast highlights COVID-19 pandemic and local businesses

Westshore Business podcast to look at how businesses handle COVID-19

Victoria councillors want city greenhouses used for food production during COVID-19

Couns. Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday are proposing new food security strategies

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

Vancouver Island’s ‘Project Draw Breath’ expands and diversifies to battle pandemic

Grassroots team working to up supplies of ventilators, other equipment during COVID-19 crisis

Trudeau says Parliament needs to sit to pass expanded COVID-19 benefits

Wage subsidy program has been greatly expanded since it was first approved

UPDATE: Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

World COVID-19 update: NATO suspicious of Russian military drills; Cruise ships ordered to stay at sea

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world for Wednesday, April 1

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

Most Read