The Husky gas station and convenience store at the intersection of Stewart and Terminal avenues is closed after it suffered extensive fire and water damage from a blaze that broke out overnight.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews responded to the alarm that came in at 3:16 a.m. Tuesday.
The fire appeared to have started in a small compound, bordered by a brick wall, at the rear exterior of the building that contains the building’s heating and air conditioning units, which suffered heavy fire damage.
Kevin Lillingston, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, said the interior of the structure suffered extensive water damage from the building’s fire suppression system as well and investigators had to wait for a private contractor to come and ensure the venting ducts and structures supporting those and the air conditioning equipment is stable before it would be safe to work around the fire scene.
“It’s pretty unstable back there, so we’re waiting for the insurance company to bring in a private contractor they like to work with to stabilize everything so we can get in there,” he said.
Lillingston and staff with a maintenance company, which asked not to be identified, said people experiencing homelessness had used the compound to take shelter and there has been drug paraphernalia and other evidence left behind.
“Until I can get in there, though, I can’t say whether the fire started because of homeless activity or if it was a drive belt or an electrical problem,” Lillingston said.
No one was injured in the blaze and investigators are working to determine if the cause of the fire is suspicious or accidental.