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

Victoria fire that burned for days deemed ‘suspicious’

On site caretaker remains ‘unaccounted for’

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. Firefighters were unable to search the top floors of the building on foot until they realized the fire was underneath them and had to evacuate the building.

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  

Just Posted

Update: Washed out South Okanagan road temporarily closed for assessment

A portion of Eastside Road, south of Penticton, appears to be crumbling into Skaha Lake

‘It takes a very strong individual’

Lynn Loeppky talks working at the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter

Tool and camping gear lending library to open in Revelstoke

Samantha Wex Special to the Review The North Columbia Environmental Society is… Continue reading

Two senior City of Revelstoke staff on paid leave

The City of Revelstoke’s Chief Administrative Officer, Allan Chabot and the city’s… Continue reading

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Okanagan art gallery releases their theme

Fine arts painting will be the point of focus for this year’s event

South Okanagan search and rescue help injured climber

Search and rescue called on the assistance of a helicopter to help retrieve an injured hiker

Okanagan nature centre fundraiser goes western

Allan Brook’s Nature Centre Wine and Wild West Fundraiser is on July 6

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Most Read