British Columbia

Spinnakers pub damaged by fire, but brewery unscathed

The brewery at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria is unscathed, but fire damage could keep the pub and restaurant closed until after Christmas, management says.

'It was a feeling of complete helplessness': manager describes watching stubborn fire

General Manager Claire Radosevic says the pub and restaurant at Spinnakers could be closed until after Christmas due to fire damage. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

The brewery at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria is unscathed, but fire damage could keep the pub and restaurant closed until after Christmas, management says.

A fire broke out in the chimney of the building on Victoria's harbour early Wednesday afternoon. 

Firefighters spent hours knocking down flames from the roof. 

"It was a feeling of complete helplessness from us just standing back and watching it happen," said general manager Claire Radosevic.

Flames could be seen shooting from the roof at Spinnakers on Wednesday. (Spinnakers/Twitter)

"It was pretty surreal. It wasn't really setting in what was going on, but the Victoria fire department was absolutely amazing," she said. 

Customers and staff were safely removed from the building, and there were no injuries. 

The pub on the second floor of the building suffered severe damage as crews worked to find and extinguish the stubborn flames. There is also smoke and water damage in the restaurant on the main floor, Radosevic said.

But the brewing equipment, and even the beer under production, were saved, she added. A guest house on the property was also not damaged and will remain open.

Fixture in Victoria

Spinnakers has been a fixture in Victoria since it started brewing its own beer in-house in 1984.

Even a temporary closure of the popular pub and restaurant will be felt in Victoria, said Joe Wiebe, the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider's Guide to B.C. Breweries and co-founder of Victoria Beer Week.

"Spinnakers is a much loved institution here. I call it the cradle of the revolution because it was the first brewpub in Canada back in 1984 and has been going strong ever since," he said.

"It's a much loved place and it plays a really prominent role in the community."

Crews battled a fire in the roof of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria Wednesday afternoon. (Mike Mcarthur/CBC)

Spinnakers is also a large employer with nearly 100 people on staff. It plans to keep paying all employees while the restaurant and pub are being restored, said Radosevic.

She added that there's been an outpouring of support from customers and other local businesses.

"It's been overwhelming with the generosity and well wishes. It's definitely a good feeling to have that amount of support."

Because the brewing equipment was not damaged, Radosevic does not expect there to be any disruptions to the supply of Spinnakers' beer at retail outlets.