Video courtesy of Bryanne Wiebe
Tofino’s beloved Shelter Restaurant was destroyed in an early morning blaze on Dec. 22.
It took about 20 volunteer firefighters from Tofino and Ucluelet to put out the fire, according to Ucluelet Fire Chief Rick Geddes. He said his team was called at 1:07 a.m. to assist the Tofino crew. They finished at about 6:45 a.m.
“When we got there flames were through the roof and it was threatening the building next door, Rod’s Power & Marine, so that became priority number one,” Geddes said.
“The crew did a great job. There was a lot of hazardous materials in the area, which is normal for a restaurant with propane and generators. In the end, it was contained to one business. As a fire chief I am pretty happy with the job that was done, especially considering the time of day,” said Geddes.
Longtime Shelter staff member Bryanne Wiebe received a call at around 1:20 a.m. that the restaurant was in flames.
“My partner is a sous-chef there so we drove to the restaurant as quick as possible. All the fire, police and ambulance were on the scene. It was such a massive flame on the back area and it spread towards the front. It was really sad to see,” said Wiebe, noting that no one was hurt.
“Nobody was hurt. Nobody was in the building. It was closed. It was locked up for the night,” she said.
“We’re just completely devastated and shocked. Shelter is such a staple in this community and it’s going to hurt for a really longtime,” she said. “The Tofino and Ucluelet firefighters did an amazing job. It was insane to see how they controlled the fire and put it out. It was huge.”
She went on to say that Shelter employs about 60 locals.
Local authorities are pulling information together about the fire and an investigation will take place.
“With that much damage it can be real hard to find the cause. You can narrow it down to the area of origin but hard to find the cause,” said Geddes.
Tofino mayor Dan Law thanked emergency responders for their quick response.
“Fortunately, there were no injuries,” said Law in a media statement. “My thanks go out to our volunteer firefighters for their prompt response and expertise in containing the fire so quickly. I’d also like to thank the local RCMP, who were first on scene and able to ensure no persons were at risk.”
He said the community is in shock and feeling the loss.
“Shelter Restaurant is one of the pillars of our community – it’s been more than just a restaurant – it’s been a well loved community hub and gathering place. We know that the owners and staff are a close-knit team who work together as a family, and that they have been tremendously generous community supporters over the years,” said Law.
“We want the whole Shelter Restaurant team to know that we’re thinking of them and their families, and that our community is here for them in this difficult time.”