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

Police, victim services aim to help seniors see through scams

Salmon Arm seniors groups host public meeting on avoiding online and telephone scams and fraud

In photos: Frisky grebes return to Salmon Arm Bay

Claude Rioux captures and sounds of Western grebe courting

First Nations group takes up biosolids protest

Online call to action asks Secwepemc to stand against and stop the dumping of biosolid

WildsafeBC comes to the Okanagan to reduce wildlife conflict

Bear activity on the Westside has been an issue in the past few weeks

VIDEO: Showers are back in the forecast

Temperatures are expected to drop, paired with clouds and rain

Column: NDP’s labour overhaul unfairly benefits unions

Notes from the Legislature by Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Trudeau’s action plan on climate change brings B.C. politician out of retirement

Terry Lake, a former B.C. health minister, is running for federal office in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

Survey finds minimal progress in Canadian military’s fight against sexual misconduct

1.6 per cent of regular-force members — 900 military personnel — reported having been victims of sexual assaults over past year

Former Kelowna Rocket makes history with Great Britian at hockey championships

Jackson Whistle was part of the team’s first win at this level since 1962

Kelowna Blues repeat as touch football champions

The Kelowna Blues won the 39th Annual Maybowl Western Canada Touch Football Tournament b

Big White firefighters rescue frozen dog from ice

The fire crew found a dog stuck in the at Lake Paul on May 20

Okanagan woman hopes to bring attention to high number of medical errors in Canada

Retired nurse requires over 300 signatures for petition with June 13 deadline

Most Read