Fire crews from Port Alberni and neighbouring volunteer departments are fighting to put out a blaze in an abandoned restaurant at Gertrude Street and Pemberton tonight (Nov. 3). The fire broke out sometime before 9 p.m. in the building, which was once part of the Tidebrook Hotel complex. The derelict hotel burned down last January under suspicious circumstances.
Officials weren’t able to say what started the fire or whether there were any injuries yet. Witnesses at the scene said fire crews were calling out asking if there were any squatters in the building.
The building was still fully engulfed at 10:30 p.m. as more than 30 people stood on the sidewalk across the street, in front of Roger Creek Park, watching and reminiscing.
“It’s been a lot of different restaurants,” said Linda Whiteman, including Amigo’s Mexican restaurant, Ursula’s Courtyard, the Stork, the Tidebrook and Ideal Bean. The coffee shop was the last incarnation of the building, and it closed in the fall of 2006.
“I remember the first time I was in this building was when I was 17 and it was for a ball team (banquet),” Sharlene Check said. The banquet room used to be upstairs, she added.
The building was owned by Jack Purdy and was recently part of a City of Port Alberni tax sale in September.
The hotel portion of the Tidebrook was located on the backside of the property and was torn down following the fire in January.
That fire appeared to have started on the backside basement side of the building. A cause hasn’t been determined.
No injuries or fatalities were reported at that time, fire Chief Tim Pley said.
Fire officials have monitored the building as it fell into disrepair over the years. “The fire prevention officer has watched it closely,” Pley said.
— With files from Wawmeesh G. Hamilton, Alberni Valley News