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

Rockets host tailgate party ahead of anticipated home-opener

Kelowna takes the ice for the first game of the season Saturday

RBC donates $40,000 to help connect youth with employers

The funding goes towards helping the YMCA Connects program to prepare young adults for the working world

Kelowna city council green lights new park charge

City wants to introduce a new development cost charge to create new parks

Kelowna boy returns to school after recovering from possible Xanax OD

RCMP investigation found the drug to be a form of benzodiazepine, commonly known as Valium or Xanax

FortisBC to offer free energy efficiency assessments for small businesses

Fortis BC wants to help 900 storefronts in Kelowna, Penticton and Rossland

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Nanaimo RCMP officer ‘walks on water’ to rescue lost camper

66-year-old assisted earlier this month by Mounties who can seemingly work miracles

South Okanagan adventure park brightens seniors’ day with flowers

The many flowers that bloom in LocoLanding during the summer brighten the day for seniors

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

East Coast comedian Ron James bringing ‘Full Throttle Tour’ to Okanagan

James is at work on the first draft of his first book, ‘All Over the Map’

Mobile needle exchange considered in Okanagan

City looks at options to combat issues of discarded needles

Province investigating eviction at Shuswap assisted living facility

Residential Tenancy Branch looking into situation affecting low-income senior residents

Most Read