Marty Fox was at the V Lounge in the Red Lion Inn to meet friends early Thursday afternoon when the retiree noticed flames flickering in the corner of the room.
“They’re doing renovations, putting rooms up above,” Fox said. “I think some of the sparks fell down in the wall, it was some big flames. We could already smell an angle grinder in there, 15 minutes later we could smell the smoke.”
It was about 1:30 p.m. when Fox sprung into action to fight the fire.
With the help of bar manager Brad Service, who pulled the fire alarm and also fetched five different extinguishers from around the building, Fox was able to subdue the fire until Saanich Fire Department showed up with 18 firefighters, three engines, a ladder and two more trucks.
Fox added that the fire really took off once it lit an artificial Christmas tree that was stored in the corner.
“Flames were on the ceiling, they were huge,” Fox said. “I was trying to put out this Christmas tree.”
[Inset photo: Marty Fox talks to passersby of the Red Lion fire. Travis Paterson/News Staff]
All businesses in the building were evacuated, the V Lounge, Fox Showroom Pub, suites of the Red Lion Inn, the Jade restaurant and the Red Lion liquor store.
“[Brad] ran and got extinguishers and I fought it,” Fox said. “I knocked it down to a small fire in the top corner. It was in the wall, I couldn’t get to it and I wasn’t going to climb up a ladder to get to it.”
Saanich Fire saw smoke coming from the second level of the V Lounge when it arrived, said Captain Dale Peebles.
Saanich firefighters killed the remaining fire with multiple hoses. Damage is estimated at $150,000. Fire damage was limited however water damage was extensive. The fire is presently under investigation.
A steady stream of water poured back out on to Douglas while much of it will likely go downstairs into the Fox Showroom, said Service, a seven-year employee.
It’s not the first major fire at the Red Lion Inn (3366 Douglas St.), which was burned beyond repair in November 2001.