Early-morning blaze destroys waterfront business

WHITE ROCK – Residents in White Rock woke up to the smell of smoke early Tuesday as a fire tore through a business along the city’s waterfront.


Gelateria Italia, a gelato and coffee shop located at 14901 on Marine Drive, is unsalvageable after a three-alarm blaze gutted most of the building.


According to White Rock Fire Chief Phil Lemire, crews received a call around 7 a.m.


Tuesday morning reporting a fire in the building adjacent to the gelato shop.


However, when crews arrived on scene, they discovered the fire was actually in the rear of the gelato building, on the second floor.


Due to size of the blaze, additional backup was called in from the Surrey Fire Department and Lemire said with the access to the building being somewhat difficult, they decided to fight the fire from outside.


"It is an older building and with the make and construction, we’re not going to put any people inside," he said.


By 9 a.m. crews had the site contained and Lemire said they were still working to determine what caused the fire. Around 1,000 residents were without power due to the fire, and people on both sides of the building were evacuated for good measure.


"We’re starting to do an assessment of the building on the east side and depending if there’s any smoke into the building, that’ll dictate if people can go back in there or not," he said at the scene Tuesday.


Residents were back home early Tuesday afternoon and later in the day, an excavator was brought in to take down two of the building’s walls.


"With the collapse of the roof into the interior, the wall on the west side had basically let loose and was leaning on the neighbouring property," explained Lemire. "The front was also a hazard for Marine Drive and the sidewalk."


As of Wednesday morning, Lemire said their crews were still investigating the cause of the fire, and that demolition had begun at the site. He added there was no smoke damage to any of the adjacent buildings.