|Four of the 11 businesses in Burtch Plaza â€” Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza, EcoWater, Soccer Express and Color Me Mine â€” were completely destroyed in a fire early Monday morning. Cora Restaurant was spared from the flames.|
"We want to thank firefighters for their commitment," Cora co-owner Pam MacPhee told The Daily Courier Monday.
"They fought real hard to save our business. There is a firewall, but the fire was getting through and firefighters didn't stop until they contained the fire."
MacPhee considers herself "very fortunate" because Cora suffered only superficial smoke and water damage.
She expects the restaurant to open in a week or two.
Four neighbouring businesses aren't so lucky.
Color Me Mine, Soccer Express, EcoWater and Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza were destroyed in the blaze that was first reported with 911 calls shortly after 1 a.m. Monday.
"It appears to have started in the ceiling above Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza," Kelowna Fire Department platoon Capt. Tim Light told The Daily Courier Monday.
"That's where the smoke and fire first appeared and was heaviest."
However, Light said investigators haven't had enough time yet to determine the cause of the fire.
Bob Wight, regional manager for Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza was reluctant to talk to The Daily Courier about the blaze.
"The owners (of the franchise) are very upset," he said. "Let's just leave it at that."
Cora also donated 3,000 pounds of fresh food it had in its well-sealed coolers to the Kelowna Community Food Bank.
"We obviously won't be able to use it, so we're happy to see it go to a good cause," said MacPhee.
Burtch Plaza, located on the north side of Highway 97 at Burtch Road, has just over 10 businesses in a strip.
Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza has a firewall between it and neighbour to the east - fair trade store Ten Thousand Villages, which suffered a fair amount of smoke and water damage.
To the west there was EcoWater, Soccer Express and Color Me Mine, which were all destroyed by fire before the blaze hit the firewall at Cora.
Other tenants to the east - Kettle Valley Graphics, Ume Japanese Foods, Black & Lee tuxedo rentals, Coldwell Banker Realty and BCAA - were not damaged.
However, the whole plaza was fenced off all day Monday as fire crews mopped up, investigators had a look and water lines and electricity to the strip were shut off while damage was
"Some of the businesses could open (Tuesday), but that will be up to the City of Kelowna (which controls the water lines) and (electric utility) FortisBC," explained Light.
"We'll continue our investigation in the damaged part."
No damage estimate was pegged on the fire, however, Light said the entire insurable value of the whole plaza is $4.9 million.
Residents of the adjacent Laurentian Heights apartment building were evacuated for a few hours while the nearby fire was at its worst.
Their building was destroyed by fire a few years ago and had to be rebuilt.