British Columbia·Video

Fire destroys downtown Nanaimo businesses

More than a dozen businesses in Nanaimo have been destroyed by a large fire that completely gutted a historic building in the city's downtown core.

As many as 15 businesses destroyed in fire on Commercial Street

The extensive damage to the building was visible on Thursday morning. (Shanon Sinn)

As many as 15 businesses in Nanaimo have been destroyed by a large fire that gutted a historic building in the city's downtown core.

The fire in the century-old building at 10 Commercial Street started around 6:30 p.m. PT Wednesday, according to Karen Lindsay, the emergency program manager for the City of Nanaimo.

It took firefighters all night to contain the flames, and at 7 a.m. PT they were still working to put out hotspots.

Nanaimo fire crews arrived around 6:30 p.m. to find dark smoke coming from inside this building on Commercial Street. (ParksvilleWX/Twitter)

"It's a very old building, and there's a lot of little pockets and voids and it just fuelled the fire. They've been working throughout the night to get the fire under control," said Lindsay.

No one was injured in the fire, and a number of adjacent buildings were evacuated safely, but several businesses were destroyed.

"There was an old restaurant in there," said Lindsay. "There was a clothing store, and a frame store, and an art gallery … a variety of different retail businesses."

Several artists, a media company, a therapist and a shoe cobbler were also affected.

Building will not be saved

Rick Hynes, the operator of Crankshaw Holdings — which owns the historic building — said Thursday the structure itself can't be saved.

"Just looking at the building I can't see how it could be rebuilt. It was a pretty intense fire."

He said it's difficult to accept what happened.

"It's a lot to take in, watching this entire building burn to the ground, you know. What do you do? Some people's business — it's their livelihoods destroyed — their passions."

"What we're going to do now is try to work together and work our way through this process and see where we end up."

Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.

With files from Farrah Merali

now