A large pile of rubble is all that remains of a small East Vancouver market following a three-alarm fire that burned for more than five hours on Friday night.
The fire appears to have started around 8 p.m. on the top storage floor of a two-story building on Broadway at Brunswick Street, above the Thuan Phat Supermarket. Within an hour, the flames had spread westward, over the popular Thai Son Vietnamese restaurant.
Due to the “intense nature of the fire,” firefighters were forced to fight it from the exterior, in defensive mode, said Vancouver Fire Captain Gabe Roder.
At 8:45 p.m., a large area of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood lost power, leaving up to 1,600 BC Hydro customers in the dark. Though much of that was restored by 12:30 a.m., about 260 customers were without power until 3 a.m.
Matters were further complicated shortly after 10 p.m., when a wall collapsed and damaged a gas meter, intensifying the fire. Firefighters and police then alerted the public to the gas leak and told residents to evacuate the block immediately.
FortisBC attended and shut off gas to the building, which also affected surrounding buildings, Capt. Roder said.
Two apartment buildings directly north of the fire were evacuated for the night as a precaution. Emergency Social Services assisted 15 residents with finding shelter. All were allowed back into their homes on Sunday.
Broadway, a major artery in Vancouver, was closed from Kingsway to Prince Edward Street the entire evening as firefighters fought the blaze, which would repeatedly appear to die down, only to flare up again.
By Saturday morning, the market was reduced to a large pile of debris, now behind blue fencing. Lights were still on at the waterlogged Thai Son restaurant, with bowls of noodles still on the tables.
There were no reports of injuries. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, Capt. Roder said.
Friday’s fire is the latest in a number to hit the Mount Pleasant area in the past few years. In November 2009, Slickity Jim’s Chat ’N’ Chew burnt to the ground at its location on Main Street, near Broadway. That fire also affected neighbouring businesses such as Kishu Island sushi restaurant and Lugz Coffee.
Slickity Jim’s was hit a second time in August 2011, after re-opening on Main near 19th Avenue, although that fire was not as serious.
On Dec. 25, 2009, a large fire consumed several businesses and art studios at Kingsway and Broadway.