Crews from the Penticton Fire Department are continuing to pour water into the burned-out shell of a Front Street building following an overnight blaze.
While still standing for now, the front wall of the main business involved Slack Alice’s Show Pub was leaning dangerously inward, prompting department Capt. Tom Smith to keep the public and firefighters out of the area of Forbes and Front streets.
At just after 11 a.m. Sunday, one firefighter working from the aerial ladder truck reported a number of significant fires still visible inside and a concerted effort by ground crews was being made to put them out.
As daylight broke the large plumes of billowing white smoke were visible throughout the city from the fire which is believed to have started some time after midnight.
Also destroyed in the fire was Bublees liquor store and the Chinese Laundry restaurant.
Reports suggest at the time of the fire, Slack Alice’s, which had been in business at the location for about 20 years, was closed for renovations and a possible liquor violation, although there was no confirmation of this.
The company website indicated it was scheduled to re-open Tuesday.
According to Capt. Smith, there was nobody inside the building at the time the fire started and there is some indication the blaze began in the upstairs of Slacks, towards the back.
“I guess they (fire dispatch) got a call about 12:45 a.m. and when they arrived on scene they went in and tried to get access to the fire but it ended up coming out the window so they had to back off because it was too dangerous,” said Smith at the scene. “There were a bunch of pockets (between the walls and ceilings) from over the years they just couldn’t get access to and I guess it got into those and worked its way out until it came out of the front of the building.”
While normally there may have been people staying upstairs at Slack Alice’s, the captain added a business employee alerted crews it was empty.
So far there have been no injuries reportedly associated with the fire.
The two streets are expected to remain closed for some time and it’s not known when the heavy equipment will be brought in to knock down the dangerous sections of walls left standing.