UPDATE: Victoria City Hall to remain closed on Tuesday in wake of downtown fire at Plaza Hotel


WATCH: The smoke from the Victoria Plaza Hotel fire on Monday could be seen for miles. And those in close proximity were affected by extremely poor air quality, including numerous businesses in the downtown core.  Mary Griffin tells how they fared.

UPDATE: City of Victoria says City Hall will remain closed on Tuesday due to poor air quality. Also Pandora Ave (west of Douglas) and Government St between Johnson and Fisgard will remain closed until further notice.


Early Monday morning, smoke from the Victoria Plaza Hotel fire could be seen streaming straight up into the sky. It drifted over a wide section of the downtown core, affecting nearby resident Michael Fanning.

“The smoke is filling up everywhere. In everyone’s businesses too. So everywhere we go, we feel that the smoke is bothering us”, Fanning said.

He and his friend, Mary-Anna are trying to stay out of the smoke and find masks help to breathe.

“Terrible. Yes, terrible. This is our precaution, but it depends on the wind, yes,” Mary-Anna said.

As firefighters battled the blaze, smoke fills the streets, and in it, possible contaminants from the burning building, according to Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce.

“Any fire is full of toxins, toxicity. So in my opinion, anybody that is at a fire scene should be aware of the potential danger that they are in,” Bruce said.

After reports of health concern, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the order was made to close city hall and send employees home. Centennial Square was also closed in the afternoon.

“We wanted to make sure that our employees weren’t working in unsafe conditions. So city hall was closed early this morning,” Helps said.

Debris from the fire littered the hood of this vehicle parked across from the building. Numerous businesses remain closed, dealing with smoke and water damage, including Cherry Bomb Toys. Owner B. Woodward said he’s still assessing the damage.

“We are a vintage collectible toy store. And we have the national toy museum of Canada upstairs. So smoke damage to vintage toys can be a serious issue, so we don’t know yet until the smoke is cleared,” Woodward said.

As a precaution, the Canadian Coast Guard installed a boom in the Inner Harbour at the base of the Johnson Street Bridge. That’s to contain any effluent-related to the fire from entering the water. Now the mop-up, and cleanup, begins.

“It’ll be a visible black scar for a number of months, if not a year, or so,” Helps said.

Government Street is closed between Johnson and Fisgard streets. Pandora Avenue from Douglas Street and Government Street will remain closed until further notice.  Helps expects that city hall will be back open for business Tuesday.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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