A persistent fire destroyed the former Hook’s restaurant in south London early Tuesday evening.
There were no injuries. Deputy Fire Chief Jack Burt said two workers were in the building when the blaze broke out at about 5:45 p.m.
Almost two hours later, water was still being poured on the charred frame of the building that once housed the popular establishment.
The thick column of smoke that resulted could be seen for kilometres.
“It’s a significant fire,” Burt said.
It also made driving in the area hazardous.
About 35 firefighters were on the scene. It wasn’t immediately clear why it was taking so long to knock the fire down.
“It seems like it’s contained,” Burt said at about 7:15 p.m.
The site bears the sign of the last business to occupy the building, the Score Bar and Grill. It has been abandoned for a number of years.
“This building was a vacant building,” Burt confirmed.
“I was in Tiger Jack’s having drinks with a couple friends,” said Londoner Mike Glenn, who was taking photographs of the blaze. “I think there was smoke before you could see some fire.”
Glenn said fire trucks arrived in less than five minutes. “There was still some pretty big flames after they put some water on it,” Glenn said.
The building stood on the northeast corner of Wharncliffe and Southdale roads.
“It’s more on the Southdale side,” Glenn said of the flames.
According to Burt, the fire department had “pre-planned” how to attack a blaze at the former restaurant in the event it caught fire. He said he had “no idea” what the two workers were doing at the site before fire crews arrived on scene.
Attacking the fire was complicated by the fact it was a hot day. Heat exhaustion can become a problem for firefighters, Burt said. There were no cases of smoke inhalation.
“The crews are all OK at this point,” he said.
Fire investigators begin their probe with interviews with witnesses, Burt said.