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Fire at View Royal's Four Mile Bar and Grill ruled accidental

Nov 16 2011
View Royal fire inspector Rob Marshall talks about the fire at the Four Mile Bar and Grill on Nov. 15, 2011. 

View Royal fire inspector Rob Marshall talks about the fire at the Four Mile Bar and Grill on Nov. 15, 2011.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, timescolonist.com

RCMP Major Crimes detectives and fire investigators have determined an early morning fire at the Four Mile Bar and Grill in View Royal this morning was accidental after reviewing video footage of how the blaze started.

“Video surveillance has revealed that the cause of the fire is accidental,” said View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst. “The building has been turned over to the owners and the insurance company to begin clean up.”

Just before 1 a.m. the pub’s automatic fire alarm alerted fire crews who arrived to find a small fire in the kitchen. No one was in the building at the time.

When crews arrived the small blaze was being snuffed out by a new sprinkler system installed when the building, dating to 1858, was extensively renovated in 2007.

“The fire sprinkler system performed exactly how it was designed,” said Hurst. “Without sprinklers, the fire would have been much worse. As a result, the building, originally constructed in 1858, is still standing.”

At first, fire fighters found a bucket with combustible items — torches and a lighter — at the source of the fire which looked suspicious, Hurst said.

Upon examining the video, investigators saw that during a clean-up before the pub closed at midnight, a rubber-made container of cleaning rags with a milk carton was accidentally kicked under a convection oven.

The rags soon began to smolder as the bucket caught fire and collapsed — falling on top of and soon consuming a nearby tool kit. The tool kit contained tools as well as combustible items, such as a lighter, that melded into one, Hurst said.

“That looked odd and so that’s why we originally treated it as suspicious,” Hurst said.

The damage is estimated to be $50,000-100,000. Owners Graham and Wendy Haymes are in Mexico until Saturday. Family was at the scene early this morning to help fire fighters mitigate the water damage and help clean up.

One of View Royal’s volunteer firefighters is a son-in-law of the couple.

The family hopes to re-open the multi-room pub, restaurant and cold beer and wine store within a day, Hurst said. The View Royal pub is beside the town’s city hall and within a block of the fire department.

The Four Mile pub is regarded as a landmark in Victoria — the fourth oldest house in Victoria following Helmcken House, Todd Manor and Craigflower Manor.

In the late 1940s the pub opened as a “dine-and-dance place” under the banner of The Lantern House Inn — the Coziest Cabaret on the Coast, according to its website. The upstairs contained a brothel frequented by sailors and raided by police until it was shut down.

The building wasn’t used commercially again until the Haymes bought it in 1979.

David Wong, owner of the nearby Six Mile Pub, stopped by the fire scene about 9:30 a.m. He handed his card to a police officer and asked him to pass along an offer of help to the Haymes family.

He said he is available to assist in any way he can with whatever is needed in the kitchen, or to get the business back up and running.

“It’s a horrible thing to happen,” Wong said of the fire. “We’ll be happy to help, we’ve been neighbours for so many years.”

View Royal fire inspector Rob Marshall said the RCMP was called in after some issues came up during the first stages of examining the fire’s aftermath.

“The initial investigation led us to some inconsistencies from what we would normally want to see in that type of area.”

Marshall said fire crews were at the scene within four to five minutes of the alarm, and had water flowing within 12 minutes.

“The condition when the guys showed up is they had smoke rolling out of the kitchen. The sprinkler system had activated and the fire-alarm system was activated, as well.”

He said the Four Mile is a three-storey wood building with a central kitchen that serves the entire complex. The bulk of the damage, mostly from water, is confined to the kitchen area, and there is also water damage in other parts of the establishment.

“We’re going to do everything possible we can to assist in getting them open as fast as possible. We’ve already been in contact with our municipality to get the building-permit issues rolling to that nothing can hold them back.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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