Firefighters continued to combat hotspots Thursday at the Plaza Hotel fire at 603 Pandora Ave. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Ontario woman says missing caretaker in downtown Victoria fire is her stepson

Audrey Draeger said she has not been in contact with Michael Draeger since 2016

A woman in Ontario said the caretaker who has gone missing since the major fire at the Plaza Hotel in downtown Victoria is her stepson.

Audrey Draeger of Thunder Bay, Ont. said Michael Draeger is the son of her late husband, Ed Draeger.

Draeger said she only just found out about the fire after receiving calls from media. Police have not contacted her yet and have yet to verify any information about Michael Draeger.

Draeger said she last spoke with Michael in 2016 because Michael’s father was ill and she wanted them to say they love each other over the phone, which they did.

READ MORE: Former coworker finds it strange that caretaker is missing after fire

“He’s a real loner, very much to himself,” Draeger said. “He was a very standoff-ish boy…I think he had a girlfriend at one time but I really don’t know.”

Michel loved working with his hands and enjoyed fishing, Draeger said. She is hoping he is away on some sort of fishing trip but said she has no way to contact him and see if he is ok. The two of them used to keep in touch through e-mail and he often sent her photos of things he was working on.

“He was an artist,” Draeger said. “He made this fence out of oak and he chiselled the whole thing. It was beautiful.”

Draeger used to send Michael Christmas packages with stollen bread, a traditional German treat. She said she and Michael’s family in Ontario are very worried about him. Draeger said many of them are thinking Michael is dead.

“I cried yesterday and the whole family couldn’t go to sleep,” Draeger said. “We’re all worried about him.”

The last time Draeger saw Michael was in Victoria, about 10 years ago she said. He had been living there for quite some time already. It was also the only time Draeger met Michael in person.

Victoria Police have yet to hear any news of Michael Drager and his whereabouts. He was known to sometimes occupy the hotel, as well as the chrome Airstream trailer in the hotel’s back alley.

“He had all these dreams to fix it up,” Draeger said. “We loaned him $3,000 to go and buy the Airstream.”

The Victoria Fire Department reported that they don’t believe anyone was in the 603 Pandora Ave. building when it caught fire, but are concerned for the whereabouts of Michael.

READ ALSO: 4 million gallons of water used on downtown Victoria fire so far

After the Plaza Hotel shut down in 2013, Michael was kept on as a live-in caretaker. He lived on the third floor of the building, but his stepmother said she believes he had a workshop in the basement.

Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce said that when firefighters first investigated the building, they got up to the third floor before realizing the fire was coming from the basement and had to evacuate.

A former coworker of Michael’s, Wayne Kainciems, said he is close to 60 years old and doesn’t carry a cell phone or have social media accounts.

B. Woodward, who owns the neighbouring Cherry Bomb Toys, told Black Press Media that he hadn’t seen Draeger in a couple days.

“There was a maintenance person taking care of the building, but I think he’s been away for a few days, I haven’t seen him,” said Woodward. “I don’t know if he took off for a few days or if something happened.”

Anyone with information on Michael Draeger is asked to contact the Victoria Police Department’s non-emergency line at 250-995-7654.

– With files from Nicole Crescenzi

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New book details 1893 murder in Abbotsford and 2 trials that followed

Farmer John Marshall was found dead on his Sumas Prairie property

Mission’s outdoor farmer’s market to return on June 6

The market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday until Oct. 3

Abbotsford football star Samwel Uko dies at age 20

Panthers star running back dies on May 21, cause of death not yet known

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

UPDATE: Police oversight agency investigating after shots fired Saturday night in Chilliwack neighbourhood

RCMP reported a ‘distraught male’ fired at police officers on Christina Drive – IIO is on scene Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The importance of accurate, ethical reporting is critical – perhaps as never before

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Most Read