Electrical problem may have sparked coffee-shop fire on Oak Bay Avenue

A kitchen fire in the Good Earth Coffeehouse on Oak Bay Avenue is under investigation, but appears to have been caused by an electrical problem.

Victoria Fire Battalion Chief Gord Taylor said a flag man working with a paving crew on Foul Bay Road called 911 after he noticed black smoke coming from a vent over the coffee shop about 12:10 p.m. Tuesday.

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“When we got here, there was heavy black smoke coming out of the vents underneath the apartments which are over the shops,” said Taylor.

“The alarms were going off. People were coming out. We sent a crew up to make sure the fire hadn’t extended into the suites above the shop.”

Firefighters used water on the exterior of the coffee shop to cool things down. Then ­maintenance staff showed firefighters the way through the parkade, into the back of the building and through corridors into the back of the coffeehouse, said Taylor.

“Once we got into the kitchen area, we could see what was burning and what the problem was and we finished extinguishing it,” said Taylor. “There wasn’t a lot of flames. It was mostly smoke. It could have been a lot worse than it turned out to be. It was just hard to see because the coffee shop had filled with smoke.”

Some of the water from the sprinkler system got under the doors of Hush Lash Studio and Domino’s Pizza, but Good Earth got most of the water, said ­Taylor.

Victoria Fire sent 19 firefighters to the scene. Oak Bay Fire was on standby. The paving crew and Oak Bay and Victoria police diverted traffic at the busy intersection for about three hours. Drivers were asked to avoid the area.

Water was shut off in the building because the heat caused one of the pipes to burst in the coffee shop, said Taylor.

Santana Willis, manager of Kharma Salons, saw thick black smoke billowing out of a window of the coffeehouse. She said the coffee shop has been empty for months, because the owners are selling.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

— With a file from Roxanne Egan-Elliott

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