Whether it was a deliberate act of arson, a prank or poor judgement will never be known, but what is known, about the July 31 fire that destroyed a block of offices in Sooke, is that it took very little fire to bring down the building.
RCMP investigators were at the fire scene on Wednesday, August 14 to watch what happened when Sooke firefighters recreated how they thought the fire started.
They believe a very small fire, started with a match, was set in a plastic recycling bin at the back of the Royal Bank premises. They investigators brought in a wheeled bin similar to what the merchants used then newspapers, shredded and assorted paper was placed about half way to the top. The bin was placed in the location where the other had been. With the flick of a Bic, the fire began.
Fire Chief Steven Sorensen said that within 45 minutes the temperature on the stucco of the building was 800 degrees and the plastic bin melted and began to flow. The temperature and a small flame was all that was needed to bring down an entire building block.
“It was like lava, with no accelerents, just the paper and mostly the bin,” said Sorensen. That is how they believe the fire started.
It is thought the July 31 fire then traveled up the studs behind the stucco and through to the offices of the Royal Bank. The fire, thought to be contained at one point, traveled through the rafters of the building spreading the fire across the length of the building. The second floor, which took the weight of thousands of gallons of water then collapsed.
“It was a text book fire,” said the chief.
The fire on July 31 was one of the hardest fires the department has had to deal with for many years and the loss will amount to millions of dollars.
The owners have stated they will rebuild.
Each of the businesses have moved into new premises.
Back in 2012, there were concerns of a number of suspicious fires set in and around Sooke. A mobile home fire just off Sooke Road, as well as a fifth-wheel fire on Kaltasin, a tree on the old golf course property, a home on Rhondonite as well as a number of other unexplained fires over the years raised questions with the fire chief.