Early-morning blaze destroys Sooke distillery

The recently opened Island Shiners Distillery in Sooke was razed in an early-morning fire Tuesday.

The distillery was located in a single-wide mobile at 2036 Idlemore Rd. that was destroyed, said Sooke Fire Rescue Department Chief Kenn Mount. No one was injured.

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After multiple 911 calls reporting flames and explosions at 4:55 a.m. Tuesday, Sooke Fire Department responded to find the commercial building ablaze. Glass bottles and distillery equipment including boilers and pressurized tanks burst in the heat.

Fire departments from Otter Point, Metchosin and East Sooke assisted in the effort. About 33 firefighters battled the blaze, which was quickly contained and extinguished, said Mount.

The fire chief had worked with the owners on their fire safety and storage plan, so when the fire call came in, he was able to advise the first responders about the layout of the commercial property and potential hazards, including items that could ignite.

“The owners did a lot of good work — they had a good thing and had only recently been up and running,” said Mount.

The husband and wife team, who hosted a grand opening last month offering Sookeshine Honey Moonshine, Potholes Vodka and Double Dragon Gin, is “absolutely devastated,” he said. “They are having a difficult time with this.”

The owners could not be immediately reached. They were at the scene as firefighters contained and extinguished the blaze.

Firefighting efforts included protecting metal storage containers, neighbouring properties including the Sooke Return-It Depot, and hazardous materials such as propane tanks, said Mount.

The distillery is off Sooke Road, down from Saseenos Elementary School.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

So far, there is “nothing to indicate” it is suspicious, Mount said. The owner had surveillance equipment that will be examined. The RCMP were at the scene.

“We’ll do a little more investigation … after things cool down,” said Mount.


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