British Columbia·Video

White Rock fire displaces dozens, damages iconic restaurant

As many as 26 people have been displaced after a late night fire above Cosmos Restaurant in White Rock Wednesday.

As many as 26 people were forced out of their homes after fire started somewhere above Cosmos Restaurant

White Rock Fire Chief Phil Lemire says the majority of the damage was contained mostly to one suite. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

A fire in White Rock displaced dozens of residents and damaged a well-known Greek restaurant late Wednesday night.

Fire crews were called just before 11:00 p.m. PT, after receiving multiple 911 calls about a large fire burning in an apartment suite above Cosmo's Greek Restaurant on Marine Drive.

A firefighter extinguishes hotspots on the building from Marine Drive. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Dozens forced out

White Rock Fire said the blaze forced as many as 26 residents from their units.

Sandra Dawn lives on the second floor and said she barely had enough time to grab her belongings before escaping through the back alley.

"When the fire broke out I was just getting washed and dressed for bed," said Dawn, who has lived in the building for two years.

"I just went out in the hall to see what was happening … there was smoke and we left right away, basically."

40-year-old restaurant damaged

Georgia Theodosakis, one of the owners of the restaurant, was closing up for the night when she smelled smoke and saw the fire above their front door awning.

"All of a sudden we heard the … fire alarm go off," said Theodosakis, who was working with her husband Dimitri at the time.

"We opened the door and we realized there were flames … so we closed the front door immediately. We didn't even lock it and just ran out the back door."

Theodosakis said she and her husband had to leave behind any money in the till, along with many of their personal belongings.

"Georgia said, let's go take the coats and the money," said her husband Dimitri. "I say no, just run out."

"We wanted to take our books and our ledgers and all that, but he says no, we can't take the risk," Georgia added.

Neighbours brought blankets to help keep some of the displaced residents warm. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Man taken to hospital

Firefighters had to attack the blaze from the outside before making their way inside to check the building. 

One man had to be brought out from his unit. He was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

White Rock Fire Chief Phil Lemire said his crews did an excellent job of containing most of the fire damage to just one apartment suite.

Fire chief Phil Lemire said his crews got most of the fire extinguished within minutes of arrival. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

"I do have to commend the crews for the job they did when they first arrived," said Lemire.

"They got a good quick knockdown on the fire, which certainly helped to contain it to where it's at now."

Most of the residents were taken to a nearby shelter for the night. Lemire said investigators will be looking into the cause of the fire today.