via the Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER - The owner of Slickety Jim’S Chat N’ Chew stared bleakly from inside a coffee shop at the smoking pile that had once been his breakfast restaurant directly across from the coffee shop on Main Street.
At 4 a.m. this morning a fire believed to have started in Kishu Island Restaurant, 2509 Main, destroyed five businesses housed in one-storey wood frame structures on the westside of Main just south of Broadway.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Slickety Jim’S owner Mike Zalman.
Asked if his insurance would cover his losses, he said: “I hope so.”
About 40 firemen took an hour to contain the blaze which destroyed the Kishu Island and Slickety Jim’S as well as the United Professional Accounting office, Lugz’s Coffee and the Militant Penguin clothing store that sold 70’s clothing.
They managed to prevent the fire spreading north to to the Jacobsenliving.ca building on the corner of Main and Broadway and south to the Belvedere Court, a mixed commercial and residential building at 10th and Main that housed 25 residents all of whom were evacuated by police.
Belvedere Court resident Daniel Vaillamcurt was awakened by the sounds of firefighters in the street shortly after 4 a.m.
“They were yelling and I could smell smoke. They were buzzing trying to get into the building. Two women police officers came and banged on my door and told me to leave,” said Vaillamcurt.
“They told me to grab what was valuable and get out quick. I took my ID and a family picture, that’s all,” he said.
For the remainder of the morning he stood and watched the fire crews battling the blaze.
He said the fire department had told him he should be allowed back into the building sometime later this afternoon.
Deputy Fire Chief Tom McEwen said no one was hurt in the three-alarm fire which brought six units to the scene.
Morning rush hour traffic was diverted around the Main-Broadway intersection and a stream of water inches deep flowed down Main and across Broadway from firecrews on ladder trucks pumping water into the buildings.
The fire was put out just before 9 a.m. and an excavator was brought in to demolish what was left of the buildings.
“We will tear the buildings apart and the rubbish will be removed,” said McEwen.
The entire front of the Kishu Island Restaurant had collapsed outwards falling onto to a bus shelter.
McEwen said it was too early to determine the cause of the fire or whether it was considered suspicious.
“Our fire investigators are on scene and right now,” he said.
He said three buildings were destroyed and two others suffered smoke damage.
The fire was the second on Main Street in two days, after a soon-to-be demolished social housing building was destroyed off Main and 33rd Wednesday.
The affected corner of Main Street and Broadway has been a lynchpin of the recent Main Street renaissance, which has seen an area that was at one time an area best steered clear of turned into one of the city's most popular destinations. With its cafe culture, oddball stores and hipster residents, the area known as SoMa is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Long considered one of Vancouver's most celebrated breakfast establishments, Slickity Jim's Chat'n'Chew was a much loved part of that SoMa revolution by virtue of its eclectic menu and decor. A generation of South Main residents have grown up on Revolution Eggs, the Honey Man City Butter, the We Don't Need No Eggs and Bacon, the Hick in the Movie Who Say a Flying Saucer, and the Cheesy Fun Guy.
Officials have yet to calculate the damage from the fire.