Crews battled a large building fire in downtown Victoria the morning of May 6. Mike Daeger was the caretaker of the facility, and is currently unaccounted for. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Former coworker finds it strange that caretaker is missing after fire

Wayne Kainciems has known Michael Daeger for over 20 years

Victoria Police have yet to hear any news of missing man Michael Daeger, the caretaker of the Plaza Hotel which caught fire Monday morning.

Daeger was known to sometimes occupy the hotel, as well as the chrome Airstream trailer in the hotel’s back alley.

The Victoria Fire Department reported that they don’t believe anyone was in the 603 Pandora Ave. building when it caught fire, but are concerned for the whereabouts of Daeger, who is unaccounted for.

READ MORE: One man missing in relation to downtown Victoria fire

VicPD are leading the search now, but so far have not heard anything.

Wayne Kainciems has known Daeger for over 20 years through work; he was a DJ at the former Monty’s strip club, and continues to work as a booking agent for dancers at clubs across B.C. In 1996 he met Daeger, who was already working at the hotel as its maintenance man.

“He’s been there for many years,” Kainciems said. “In hotels like that that aren’t the fanciest places in the world there’s always a guy there to be a handyman.”

ALSO READ: Fire ravages empty downtown Victoria building

Kanciems said that after the business shut down in 2013, Daeger was retained to stay on as a live-in caretaker.

“I helped him out a couple times after it closed,” Kainciems said. “There’s 65 rooms in there so there was always a lot to do.”

Daeger lived on the third floor, taking over a larger suite than the ones that had been reserved for dancers and guests.

Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce said that when firefighters first investigated the building, they got up to the third floor before realizing the fire was coming from the basement and had to evacuate. When asked if they’d completed a final sweep of the third floor, Bruce was uncertain as he hadn’t debriefed with firefighters who were on shift Sunday night.

ALSO READ: Victoria Fire Department brings in rigs to help stop fire

When Kainciems saw footage of the fire from the Broad Street angle, however, he grew concerned.

“I saw smoke billowing out of a window that could have been his,” he said, “That freaked me out.”

Kainciems said Daeger is close to 60 years old, and doesn’t carry a cellphone or have social media accounts, making him a hard person to get a hold of at the best of times. Still, he finds it weird that he wouldn’t be on site.

“He’s just one of those people who’s always been there.”

B. Woodward, who owns the neighbouring Cherry Bomb Toys, told Black Press that he hadn’t seen Draeger in a couple days.

“There was a maintenance person taking care of the building, but I think he’s been away for a few days, I haven’t seen him,” said Woodward. “I don’t know if he took off for a few days or if something happened.”

Anyone with information on Daeger is asked to contact the Victoria Police Department’s non-emergency line at 250-995-7654.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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