Fire has gutted Stag II Barbers at 10th Avenue Plaza in Port Alberni.
Fire crews were called out just before 9 a.m. to put out the blaze in the mall right beside the fire station.
“It started in one unit,” Port Alberni’s new fire Chief Kelly Gilday said. “There was heavy smoke inside the unit. We managed to get the fire out.”
Clay Edghill from Serious Coffee smelled smoke in the kitchen area of his store, right next to the barbershop, and called 911 just before 9 a.m. He and another employee were the only two working in the coffee shop at the time.
“I thought it was my fridge,” Edghill said as he watched fire crews coming and going from his coffee shop. Firefighters were checking the common ceiling that all the stores share on that side of the strip mall to make sure the fire hadn’t spread.
Serious Coffee and Wait You Chinese Restaurant, which flank the barbershop, suffered the most smoke damage, Gilday said. “There was some heavy smoke in businesses on both sides of the barbershop” and crews were checking four or five others for smoke.
Sherry Mo, Wait You’s owner, arrived around 9:30 a.m. to see her restaurant door open and firefighters clearing out smoke.
“I passed by here at 8:45 a.m. and there was nothing,” Mo said.
There are eight stores on that side of the mall, closest to Redford Street, between Scotiabank and Fairway Market. Stag II is usually closed Sundays and Mondays, Edghill said. The barbershop has been a mainstay in Port Alberni for the past 46 years.
No injuries were reported.
Fire investigators were on scene at 11 a.m. to try and determine how the fire started.