A fire beside the new Cora's Breakfast and Lunch restaurant at Birch Road and Highway 97 had fire crews hopping all night Monday. Soccer Express

Overnight fire in Kelowna destroys four businesses on Highway 97

The Laurentian apartments evacuated for the second time in two years; a pizza place, water business, soccer store and pottery shop destroyed

  • Nov. 26, 2012 10:00 a.m.

Owners of the businesses affected by the Burtch Plaza fire, which gutted four stores early Monday morning, should know more about where their businesses go from here by Tuesday.

At approximately 1 a.m. Monday morning, the Kelowna Fire Department responded to several 911 calls indicating smoke and flames were coming from Burtch Plaza, the shopping complex just south of Global Fitness on Highway 97 where BCAA and Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch are located.

The fire destroyed a sports shop, Soccer Express; pottery business, Color Me Mine; water purification outlet, EcoWater 2000, and Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza.

“We’re going to have a strata meeting tomorrow and we should know more by then,” said Brad Leitch, owner of Soccer Express, who drove from the Coast Monday morning to assess the situation after receiving a call overnight to say his store was on fire.

Soccer Express is one of three outlets and a distribution centre he owns, and Leitch admitted the details of what occurred were unclear to him when he left for the trip. He said he understood the fire had started in the roof of one of the adjacent businesses and that the firewalls at Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch and Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza likely stopped the blaze from spreading.

“The firewalls are usually built to keep the fire in the restaurant, although in this case it looks like it kept it out,” he said.

A statement from the fire department released six hours after the fire was reported said fire crews arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the roof above Soccer Express and EcoWater 2000, beside Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza.

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, platoon captain Tim Light gave a radio interview saying the department believed the source of the fire was somewhere in the Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza roof; though it would be difficult to tell what actually sparked the blaze due to the extent of the damage.

“Fire crews started with an offensive interior attack, but were forced to change to a defensive exterior attack when the ceiling of the units collapsed,” Light said.

RCMP evacuated one employee from Cora’s restaurant upon arrival, and fire crews then followed by evacuating residents from the nearby Laurentian Heights apartments off Kelglen Crescent.

Two years ago, the same rental apartments burned in a similar middle-of-the-night blaze and close to 100 people lost their homes. It remains one of the uglier fire incidents in the city’s recent history as very few had rental insurance and many were operating on modest incomes.

No one was injured in Monday’s fire, although several businesses will lose income in the Christmas lead-up. In addition to the four businesses destroyed, places like the Cora’s outlet, BCAA and Ten Thousand Villages remain closed.

“We didn’t suffer any fire damage, but there is certainly some water and smoke damage,” read a statement on the Ten Thousand Villages Facebook page. “We won’t know the full extent of damage until we are allowed back in the store and we’re not sure when that will be.”

The Colour Me Mine Facbook page was apologizing to customers, though the store was among those destroyed and three doors away from the apparent source.

“We can’t express how much we appreciate the enormous amount of support from the community at this time,” the shop’s page stated. “We are so, so sorry to those customers affected by this unfortunate event.”

The Kelowna Fire Department deployed four fire engines, a rescue vehicle, a ladder truck, command vehicle and several support vehicles to fight the fire. It took some 44 fire personnel over the course of the night to complete the job.

The property manager for Burtch Plaza said she had not been given information on damages and does not have an estimated re-opening date as yet.

Just Posted

Snowfall warning between Merritt and Hope

As much as 20 centimteres of the white stuff is expected along a stretch of the Coquhialla

Double book launch in Kelowna

Authors Sharon Thesen and Erin Moure read from their new works Thursday at library

Westbank Opry announces Christmas show

West Kelowna music fans are encouraged to bring a food donation to help the less fortunate

Giants ground Rockets in WHL action

Vancouver builds early lead, never looks back in 6-1 win at Langley Events Centre

Kelowna author promoting life-changing book

Book signing event at Chapters Sunday of long-awaited Runaway Trilogy of life-changing maxims

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

LIVE: BC Liberals kick off leadership debate in Nanaimo

Candidates’ forum is at noon at Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Pen High Lakers make strong showing against KSS Owls

Penticton Lakers fought hard through to final set

Gallery celebrates long history of art appreciation

Gallery Odin, at Silver Star Mountain, is gearing up to open their 16th annual Winter Exhibition

WATCH: Thousands gathering in Abbotsford for Const. John Davidson funeral procession

Celebration of life to follow at Abbotsford Centre at 1 p.m.

Warriors end seven-game road slide with win in P.G.

West Kelowna bounces back from lopsided loss to the Vees a night earlier with victory over Kings

Mellof, Koffski top Superleague of Curling

Stolairus Aviation sits at 4-0, while Raymond James is 4-1 in Kelowna Curling Club action

Back-to-back wins for the Vees this weekend

Penticton Vees take down Capitals 10-1

Giants stop Rockets’ 4-game winning streak

Vancouver scored four first-period goals to down Kelowna in WHL action.

Most Read