A South Surrey car dealership and auto wash was reduced to little more than a frame Wednesday morning, in a blaze that collapsed a floor and forced firefighters to retreat.
The fire at DJ Auto Market and Super Suds Car Wash, at 2377 King George Blvd., broke out just before 2 a.m., and at its height, 26 firefighters were working to bring it under control.
Damage was such that as of mid-morning Wednesday, crews had not been able to thoroughly search the building – which had an upstairs suite – however, injuries were not suspected.
“We believe the tenants are all out… and accounted for,” battalion Chief Gary McHarg told Peace Arch News at the scene. “At this point, we don’t believe there’s anybody inside.”
Officials confirmed Thursday that two people were in the suite when the fire broke out; both escaped unharmed before firefighters arrived.
McHarg said crews were alerted to the blaze by a Surrey RCMP officer who was in the area, heard a noise and found the fire.
When firefighters arrived, a vehicle was on fire at the front of the building and flames were extending up into the building.
It’s unclear if the fire started in the building and spread to the vehicle, or vice versa, McHarg said.
While crews initially attacked the fire from inside the burning building, they quickly had to resort to a defensive strategy.
“We had a significant interior upper collapse of the floor,” McHarg said, describing the fire as “very fast-spreading.”
Damage to the business was extensive.
The smell of smoke in the area remained thick for several hours Wednesday and at least two neighbouring businesses – White Rock Dance Studio and Seung-ri Black Belt Academy – had to close for the day due to smoke damage.
Andrew Vonk, manager of that building, told PAN he was alerted to the blaze at 4:30 a.m., after it triggered smoke alarms in the dance studio. Fire crews at that time told him not to come to the scene for safety reasons.
“They said the smoke was just so bad,” Vonk said.
Seung-ri instructor Joni Coombs said that when she arrived at work, the smoke was too intense to stay inside.
Fire crews spent most of Wednesday attending to hot spots, and a fire investigator was on scene in an effort to determine what sparked the blaze. As of Thursday morning, the cause remained unknown.