Terrace Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Dave Jephson said that the early morning April 4 fire at the Keith Ave. Tim Hortons was likely burning inside the wall of the restaurant for some time before being noticed by staff.
When crews arrived around 4 a.m., they tackled visible flames, but noticed there was still smoke coming from the building. Firefighters then used a thermal imager and detected heat in the wall.
“They started to rip the wall apart, they can see fire had gone up into the ceiling, and they started open up the ceiling and sure enough, there’s fire in the ceiling. So that’s why the that’s why the damage was so extensive,” Jephson said.
“We believe that it’s tied to electrical and some sort of a heating device in that area, and the fire burned for quite a while undetected.”
Being a restaurant, Jephson said that while the fire was growing in the wall would have been difficult to detect for employees due to the heat of the oven and lack of visible smoke. He said the fire was first noticed when it broke through the wall above the stove.
Jephson praised the actions of the staff, who used a fire extinguisher on visible flames and called 911 right away. He said that the building was not required to have a sprinkler system due to its small size, and that sprinkers would not have made a difference anyway, because the fire outside of the wall was not large enough.
Around a dozen fire department personnel responded to the fire and continued to monitor the site until around 10 a.m. There were no injuries as a result of the fire.
“Right now collectively, the ownership and the management of the location are just trying to come up with a plan on how to get staff to work as quickly as possible, assess the damage of the store and see what can be salvaged but from what we’re told the interior’s a total loss, the structure we’re not sure yet,” said Janine Kraft, Tim Hortons manager, on April 4.
Some staff have been re-routed to the Lakelse Ave. Tim Hortons location, which is now open 24/7 to accommodate increased customer traffic.