The community is feeling the impact after an early-morning fire tore through the Pender Harbour Hotel and Grasshopper Pub on Monday, Sept. 30, Area A director Frank Mauro said the following day.
“It’s a big effect,” Mauro told Coast Reporter. “It’s a number of jobs that are instantly lost. It was a major business in the town. It was a good venue for many activities — tourism, tour buses — and also attracted locals from Halfmoon Bay to Egmont.
“So it’s a major loss.”
The fire, which destroyed more than half of the building in the 12600 block of Highway 101 at Madeira Park, started Monday morning between 6 and 7 a.m., officials said.
“It was fully involved when we responded and we still don’t have a determination of where it started,” fire chief Don Murray of the Pender Harbour Fire Department said from the scene Monday afternoon, as crews continued to mop up and put out hot spots.
No injuries were reported.
On Wednesday, a senior insurance investigator ruled the fire was an accident. “It’s been determined that it was an accidental fire,” claims adjuster Rodney Murrell said.
The site investigator concluded that the fire started on the back patio outside the kitchen door, he added. “We believe the ignition was electrical.”
Mauro said he hopes the owners will see the advantages of rebuilding.
“That’s what we want to see as a community, and hopefully it will be as quickly as possible,” he said.
Contacted Wednesday, owner Bikram Brar said rebuilding and getting his 16 employees back to work was definitely the priority.
“Absolutely we want to rebuild and get everything going and everything done. That’s not even a question,” Brar said.
“It’s an unfortunate event, but when you fall, you gotta get up again.”
Brar thanked the firefighters who extinguished the blaze and said he was just grateful that no one was injured.
Mauro called the fire departments’ response “fabulous” and “a major team effort.”
“We don’t realize how valuable a service we have,” he said.
About 15 members from the Pender Harbour department responded to the call with three pieces of apparatus, while the Sechelt Fire Department assisted by sending out an aerial ladder crew of six with a duty officer.
“It was a significant help to us because they were able to rise above it,” Murray said.
Sechelt fire chief Bill Higgs said it took his crew 35 minutes to reach the scene after Murray called for mutual aid.
“Chief Murray called us as he left his home, after getting the page, and confirmed he had a working structure fire,” Higgs said. “He was smart enough to get the ladder truck rolling sooner rather than later, and we got there and were able to punch it down. That was very wise of him.”
The 75-foot (22.5-metre) ladder enabled firefighters to hit the blaze with elevated streams that disperse water at varying flows, Higgs said.
“The elevated stream is what we find is most effective when you get these commercial fires,” he said.
RCMP closed a section of Highway 101 in both directions at about 7:20 a.m. Monday to allow fire crews to run hoses over the roadway, and later single-lane traffic was allowed through, said Const. Ashley Taylor of the Sunshine Coast RCMP.
The highway was completely reopened after about two hours.