An electrical problem in a storage room caused the fire that burned Port Alberni’s oldest barbershop and caused smoke damage to several other businesses in a Port Alberni strip mall on Monday.
“We found the area of origin to be in the rear of the business; the cause was found to be electrical in nature,” Port Alberni chief fire prevention officer Randy Thoen said.
Store owners at the 10th Avenue Plaza were mopping up on Tuesday, with restoration companies on hand to assist in cleanup. Most businesses that had been affected by the smoke were able to open on Tuesday except for Serious Coffee and Wait You Chinese Restaurant, which were on either side of Stag II Barbers.
The barbershop, while not completely gutted, will have to be rebuilt, Thoen said. “It looks worse than it is. Most of it in there is smoke stained.”
There wasn’t any structural damage to the mall units despite the fire, Thoen added. “We’re very pleased everything turned out the way it did. The ability to contain the fire to that unit is huge.”
Serious Coffee owner Clay Edghill called 911 just before 9 a.m. after smelling smoke in his kitchen area, which shares a wall with the barbershop. Since the fire department was right beside the mall, response from firetrucks was immediate.
Thoen said Stag II owner George Toombs was insured, as were all the other store owners. “For someone whose place burned, hes definitely in good spirits,” Thoen said.
“We’re just happy everybody was safe.”
Thoen gave a shout out to members of the public who were parked at the plaza and accommodated the hydrant lines.
“It’s difficult snaking hoses and big equipment through a place that busy,” he said.