Oak Bay Fire Department released the scene of a fire that started shortly before 8 p.m. last night (May 11).
They were called to a fire in a suite on the second floor of the SeaView apartments on Satellite Street, said Chief Dave Cockle.
“Upon arrival the guys made an interior attack into the suite and found a fire in the back bedroom and bathroom area that extended into the plumbing chase and into the ceiling. From that point they made an aggressive attack, pulling ceilings and chasing the fire with fire streams in order to alleviate the fire and stop the fire from spreading beyond the two suites.”
Both Victoria and Saanich Fire responded to a call for mutual aid. Oak Bay Fire has released the scene to the insurance company, satisfied it is an accidental fire, Cockle said.
“It was a result of some paper-back insulation from the 1950 building that ignited in a plumbing chase,” he said.
Cockle also credited Oak Bay Beach Hotel with helping residents of the building.
“Currently there are about 30 people displaced from those suites for the near future,” Cockle said. The hotel offered refuge for residents that allowed Oak Bay Emergency Prep to get residents started with claims procedures, and ensuring everyone had any medical equipment or medications needed.”
The blaze was in an old building adjacent to Oak Bay Beach Hotel and other apartment blocks where residents and guests gathered to watch firefighters work.
“My first view of it was smoke billowing up,” said Bill Smith, who lives nearby.
“It was surreal,” said his wife, Liz Smith. “There was white smoke and I went upstairs to have a better look. … The white smoke got more and more dense and then it turned black. Our brave responders went running in and fought it from inside.”
The narrow road quickly filled as Victoria and Saanich fire departments arrived to help.
“Somewhere between 10 and 20 people stood outside huddled up. They were clearly the residents and they got out quite quickly which was good,” said Bill Smith.
“It was really intense abut everybody was removed from the building,” said Liz. “I saw the hotel manager come outside and take the people into the hotel.”
The 1950s building is mostly wood, and has a storied past, Liz said.
“At one point with those flames we thought we might see the whole thing go. It was pretty dramatic,” she said. “It had some interesting residents over the years I understand.”
“It’s a very old building,” said Bill Smith. “There have been all sorts of famous people who lived in the building. The most famous was Wacky (W.A.C.) Bennett.”
No injuries were reported.