Shawnigan Lake RCMP are investigating a suspicious fire that took fire crews several hours to extinguish and damaged a nearly century-old building in Mill Bay.
Mounties say they were called to Masonic Lodge, also known as Malahat Lodge or Freemason Lodge, on Lashburn Road around 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, for a report of a fire.
People have been practicing Freemasonry there for about 100 years, according to information online.
Mill Bay Fire Rescue says its crews were paged out at 1:50 a.m., arrived on scene nine minutes later and initiated a fire knockdown of the interior fire in the “alpha/delta” corner, or the front and right corner, of the building’s first floor.
“Quickly after the initial fire was knocked down, it was discovered that due to the type of building construction, the fire had extended from the first floor through the wall stud space and up into the attic,” reads a Facebook post from Mill Bay Fire.
Crews didn’t have access to the attic at first, so they fed water through a gable-end vent using a deck gun to extinguish the fire there, says the fire department.
“Shawnigan Lake Fire provided mutual aid assistance with an engine and crew to allow crews to rest and rehab until the fire was fully knocked down,” it said.
But this isn’t the first time the lodge has been damaged by fire.
The building was completed in 1935, states its website, and just two years later, on May 1, 1937, it was completely destroyed by flames.
“Due to unfortunate loss by fire, many of our early records have been lost, and a number of gaps exist,” reads the website. “Some of the facts, which do emerge, were taken from a copy of the first By-laws and minutes of Lodge meetings.”
On Sunday, firefighters were on scene for about five hours.
“Crews were cleaned up and back in service shortly before 7 a.m.,” said Mill Bay Fire, also thanking BC Emergency Health Services paramedics, RCMP and BC Hydro crews for their help on scene.
According to Shawnigan Lake RCMP, no one was injured in the fire.
RCMP, in a news release Wednesday, say police and fire investigators examined the scene “and discovered evidence that raised suspicions as to the nature of the fire.”
Anyone with information about the recent fire is asked to call the RCMP detachment at 250-743-5514.