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VIDEO: Nelson firefighters battle fire at Victoria and Josephine

Building home to several businesses, including restaurant and dry cleaner

Nelson firefighters were still trying to put out a commercial fire late Thursday evening at the corner of Josephine and Victoria streets.

Earlier in the evening, flames and smoke could be seen coming from the roof of a two-storey building home to several different businesses. Those on the upper portion, where the fire was initially concentrated, include Divine Alchemy Tattoos, A Thing of Beauty lingerie, and a pottery studio. Busaba Thai Cafe and Aldo’s Cleaners are on the lower level, fronting Victoria Street.

Assistant fire chief Mike Daloise said in a news release that they received a call at around 5:20 p.m. of a fire in the ceiling of a bathroom. When crews arrived, they confirmed everyone was out of the building.

“The fire extended to the ceiling space and an aggressive interior attack was initiated,” Daloise said. “The structure had undergone extensive renovations and modifications that made accessing the area where the fire had travelled to very challenging.”

The fire damaged the roof badly enough that firefighters decided that trying to tackle it from inside was no longer safe, so they retreated to a defensive, exterior attack. The fire department’s aerial truck was used to try to get water into the attic space to prevent it from spreading to the businesses below.

In all, 24 firefighters responded with two engines, one tender, the ladder truck, and two utility vehicles. There were no injuries. The cause is under investigation.

At 9 p.m. crews were trying to access some hot spots to completely put out the fire. Daloise said there is “significant” damage to the roof and part of the upper floor, with smoke and water damage throughout the building.

Although joined together, the building has two different street addresses: 524 Victoria and 602 Josephine. BC Assessment indicates the latter was constructed in 1899. Civic directories suggest both addresses were once separate homes.

A concrete fire wall separates the building from its neighbour to the west on Victoria Street.

Smoke could be seen and smelled from throughout the city.

Among the casualties of the fire were a number of grad dresses reportedly at the dry cleaner. Resident Sherry Perry has started a drive to collect replacements.

“I am currently putting together an album of pictures of available dresses both for loan and for give away,” she wrote on Facebook. “I hope to have collected all donated and loaned dresses by Friday afternoon.”

L.V. Rogers has its grad cavalcade on Saturday.

The fire is the third in three days in Nelson. On Tuesday morning, a home in Fairview was destroyed and another damaged, while another fire broke out Tuesday afternoon in an apartment on Ward Street.

A fire in Castlegar last week believed to have been deliberately set also destroyed two homes. A suspect has been arrested in that blaze.