COQUITLAM — The cause of a large blaze that destroyed a commercial building in the Austin Heights business area last week will likely go down as electrical.
Coquitlam Fire and Rescue chief Tony Delmonico said a preliminary investigation has determined the cause of the fire to be electrical, and it is not considered suspicious.
He said the investigation would continue, specifically focusing on any previous electrical issues in the building, located at 1060 Austin Ave.
The department is expected to look at the building’s records and speak to the owners.
Investigators have also determined the fire started inside the southwest corner of the one-storey business.
Dozens of firefighters were needed to fight the stubborn fire, which was called in just after 11 p.m. Thursday evening.
Flames could be seen shooting from the roof of the building for some time, while crews battled to get control of the blaze.
The two affected business have been identified as Mary Ann Meegan Insurance Agency Ltd. and a Re/Max real estate office.
Representatives with Austin Heights Business Improvement Association called the fire a big loss for the business community in the area.
Erin Davidson, the BIA’s executive director, said the Meegan family, which also owned the building, is devastated by the fire.
“Everybody is very emotional,” she told The NOW, noting the night of the fire, several other business owners in the neighbourhood stopped by to offer support to the family.
“It shows there is a strong sense of community and a loyal customer base.”
Davidson said the BIA is looking to support the Meegan family in any way it can.
The building itself was one of the oldest along the strip.
Davidson suggested the Meegan family might be content with replacing the former building with a new structure that is similar.
“They do have options, but it’s totally up to them how they want to proceed,” she said.
The blaze proved to be one of the more difficult fires Coquitlam Fire and Rescue has fought this year.
The department responded with 12 rescue vehicles and more than 50 firefighting personnel.
At one point, the roof of the building collapsed and crews were just trying to make sure the fire didn't spread to neighbouring buildings.
The building to the east of the structure suffered light smoke and glass damage, while Austin was shut down for hours as crews mopped up the scene.
The adjacent businesses were closed for the weekend, while the building was demolished on Friday.
Preliminary damage estimates have been pegged at approximately $500,000 to the affected building, which fire crews believe was built at some point in the 1950s or 1960s.
"This insurance business has been here 42 years," Delmonico said.
"They've got a lot of friends in the neighbourhood and a lot of people coming by who are really concerned."