$400K in losses during Cadboro Bay blaze

A well-known Saanich artist was treated for smoke inhalation following a house fire that left hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage

A well-known Saanich artist was treated for smoke inhalation last week, following an afternoon house fire that left hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to his home and art.

At 2:30 p.m. Oct. 4, the Saanich Fire Department responded to a fire on Vista Bay Road, where heavy black smoke was emanating from the ground floor and upper windows of the home of painter Paul Hutner.

A crew of 20 firefighters began salvaging his work while extinguishing the blaze.

Hutner had been working in his downstairs studio at the time. When he went upstairs to do some framing, he heard the smoke alarm sound. Upon his return downstairs, he discovered the fire in the corner of his studio.

“He tried initially to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher, then a garden hose,” said Saanich fire Capt. Rich Pala. “When he put the water on the fire, it darkened it right down, put the smoke right down, and that’s when he decided it was time to get out.”

Hutner, who was home alone at the time, didn’t suffer any burns and was taken to hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and shock.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined, but investigators are confident it was accidental. Damage is estimated to be approximately $400,000 to the structure and its contents.

Hutner is known best for his large abstract pieces that blend elements of realism. He has been exhibiting his work since 1969 in Toronto and had much of his life’s work stored in his home at the time.

nnorth@saanichnews.com