PORT McNEILL—A local business landmark was badly damaged in an early morning blaze Saturday that may have had suspicious origins.
Sportsman’s Restaurant and several offices attached to the building at the waterfront on Beach Drive were left with fire, water and/or smoke damage after flames leaped from a nearby storage building to race up a section of wall near the rear of the two-storey building. Along the way, the fire melted vinyl siding and scorched wood beneath before it reached the roof and spread.
“The roof of the original building is completely destroyed,” Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department chief Chris Walker said. “We managed to contain the fire to the roof, but it still makes for a lot of water damage. The building itself had a fire-suppression (sprinker) system, and that’s where a lot of the water came from.”
RCMP stepped in to investigate the origin of the fire, which started in a building with no electrical power or other obvious causes for ignition.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Port McNeill RCMP sergeant Craig Blanchard said Tuesday. “We have nothing to go on so far, no cause of origin or suspects.
“We have security at the scene and we have an investigator coming to look at it later this week.”
The fire was called in at 3:40 a.m. Saturday, and trucks from Port Hardy Fire Rescue and from Hyde Creek Fire Department arrived to assist through a mutual aid agreement between the departments.
“We had great cooperation between all three departments,” said Walker. “It was all very professional. I would work with either department again.”
Walker toured the site Monday along with an insurance adjustor, and a security guard watched the premises around the clock.
The main dining area of the Sportsman’s, a single-storey addition on the waterfront side of the main building, was untouched by the flames. But it was inundated by water, and atop the original, two-storey section blackened sections of trusses, some draped with melted shingles, pointed toward the sky.
The RCMP asks anyone who might have seen unusual activity in the area late Friday or early Saturday, or who has any information, to contact the Port McNeill detachment at 250-956-4441 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).