Former patrons of the Salmon Point Pub and Restaurant are expressing sadness after flames destroyed a favorite gathering place south of Campbell River on Friday morning.
Jane Moxam, who lived in Campbell River for 17 years before moving to Sylvan Lake, Alta., has warm memories of her children playing in a boat on the grounds of Salmon Point while the family enjoyed a meal on the veranda.
“It was just a little pirate ship, and they could just sit in it and pretend they were sailing on the ocean,” she said.
“It was lovely,” she said, adding that she would visit the pub with friends from overseas or with her parents, who live at Saratoga Beach. She added that her mother, an artist, had paintings on display at the pub.
“That’s all lost,” Moxam said.
Heather Holden, a resident of Port Dover, Ont., said she spent several months living with her husband in a motorhome beside the pub while travelling. It was a good place to make friends, she said.
“It was nice staggering distance, as I used to call it,” she said, recalling how guests could enjoy supper with friends and then stagger back to their trailer or motorhome.
She said the staff were always very welcoming and helpful, the schnitzel was outstanding, and she loved having a beer while watching the seals play in the water.
“It was a unique place,” she said, adding that she hopes that it’s rebuilt.
That sentiment was echoed by others on social media, as images of the pub being consumed by flames generated dozens of comments online.
The cause of the fire remains unknown. Bruce Green, chief of Oyster River Volunteer Fire Rescue, was at the site on Monday morning investigating.
He said the dollar value of the loss hasn’t yet been determined, but the structure is a “complete write-off.”
Ben Mittelsteadt, manager of communication for BC Assessment, said the restaurant and pub are part of a larger parcel of land that also includes a marina and cabins.
The assessed value of the parcel is $1,971,000, including improvements worth $958,000, he said.
The pub has been in business since 1982. The owner couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.
Photos and video taken at the scene show the building engulfed in flames early on Friday morning.
Fire broke out before 5 a.m. when firefighters from Oyster River and Campbell River fire departments arrived, area resident Warren Janes said.
“I live on Salmon Point and was woken by the sirens and lights,” Janes said. “Our power was turned off in the area and I walked down after seeing the rising smoke.”
Green said firefighters responded to an alarm from the pub at about 4:45 a.m. The structure was fully involved in the blaze by the time firefighters arrived.
The response involved about 25 firefighters, with two trucks from the Campbell River Fire Department and four from Oyster River, Green said. There were no injuries.
-With files from Alistair Taylor, Campbell River Mirror