Police say that a devastating fire at Salmon Point Pub and Restaurant is considered suspicious, but they’re revealing little about the case.
Cpl. Ron Vlooswyk of the Campbell River RCMP said on Friday that police can’t provide any details about the case because a criminal investigation is underway.
“What I can tell you is it is treated as suspicious,” Vlooswyk said. “I understand the fire investigation is complete but the criminal investigation is ongoing.”
Oyster River Fire Rescue said on Thursday that the fire has been traced to its origin, but the cause remains unknown.
“Through the investigation we determined that it started in the upper dining room area,” said Bruce Green, chief of Oyster River Fire Rescue. “We ruled everything else out.”
Members of the fire department, RCMP and an insurance company investigator looked at evidence including burn patterns, Green said.
The question of what started the fire is now in the hands of the Campbell River RCMP and the insurance investigator, he said.
Meanwhile, the fate of the landmark gathering place remains unclear.
Asked about whether the pub will be rebuilt, business owner Jim Flohr said, “I hope so.”
The building itself – which was completely gutted by flames on March 1 – belongs to the owners of Salmon Point Resort, he said.
Staff at the resort declined an interview request on Thursday.
The resort includes an RV park, a marina, cabins and other amenities.
The value of the loss remains unknown, said Flohr.
The larger property has an assessed value of more than $1,900,000, according to BC Assessments.
When the fire triggered an alarm in the early hours of March 1, Flohr attended the scene.
Watching the pub burn to the ground was devastating.
“Your heart was broken,” he said. “It was horrible.”
Flohr is a member of Oyster River Volunteer Fire Rescue, but he didn’t participate as a firefighter.
He’s been running the business since December 2012.
Even if Flohr had attended as a firefighter, he wouldn’t have been allowed to fight it due to the emotional attachment, said Green.
“Your mind is going somewhere and you’re not going to be concentrating… it would be risky,” Green said.
Most of the firefighters at the scene were from Oyster River’s volunteer fire department, Flohr said, and he praised their service.
“Oyster River should feel very fortunate to have this fire department on their side,” he said.
Most of the pub’s former employees have new jobs lined up, he said.
Businesses in the Campbell River-Courtenay area have contacted him directly to hire the former staff, Flohr said.
“A lot of businesses have stepped up.”
This story was updated with information from the RCMP on March 8.