Firefighters spent the morning of Victoria Day battling a serious blaze that tore through a commercial building in downtown New Westminster.
The fire erupted at around 3:16 a.m. at a building on Columbia Street that houses the Heritage Grill, Happy Buddha Tattoo and other businesses.
Chief Tim Armstrong of New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services said the flames spread quickly through the structure, which is at least 100 years old.
“Part of the problem with the age of these buildings is just they’ve been renovated over the years, a lot of void spaces,” Armstrong said. “Fire travels pretty quickly through the building.”
What started as a single-alarm blaze was soon upgraded to a three-alarm, with 40 firefighters on scene.
Crews managed to get the fire under control by around 6 a.m., but were still putting out hotspots hours later.
“Our biggest priority was to keep the adjacent building next door protected, which we’ve succeeded to do,” Armstrong said.
Authorities aren’t yet sure what sparked the fire, or where it started. Crews could be seen hosing down flames on the second floor of the building.
The New Westminster Police Department said Columbia had to be shut down between 6th Street and 4th Street to make way for the firefighting effort. Authorities asked drivers to use an alternate route until it reopens.
Power was also turned off in the 400-500 block of Columbia and 400 block of Carnarvon Street, according to a tweet from the city.
As a result of the fire in downtown #NewWest, power has been turned off affecting the 400/500 block of Columbia St. and the 400 block of Carnarvon St.
— City of New Westminster (@New_Westminster) May 24, 2021