Investigators have determined that the fire that destroyed Lou’s Grill in Abbotsford on Thursday morning was accidental, although the exact cause has not yet been revealed.
The 25-year-old restaurant, located on Gladys Avenue just before it turns into the Abbotsford-Mission Highway, went up in flames at about 6:30 a.m.
Crews from Abbotsford Fire Rescue Servic (AFRS) arrived to find the front of the building engulfed by fire.
By 7 a.m. the blaze was largely under control, but a broken gas meter continued to burn and crews were unable to enter the building until the gas was turned off.
It took about 50 minutes for FortisBC employees to arrive on scene to shut off the gas.
A fire investigator was on scene all day yesterday, and the fire was deemed accidental, although Fire Chief Don Beer said among the questions to be answered is whether the gas meter broke because of the blaze or whether it broke first and is the cause of the fire.
He said the investigation will also look at precisely where in the building the fire started.
Beer said the fire spread across the main floor of the restaurant and into the attic and roof, causing “significant damage.”
He said the back end of the building is still “structurally sound.”
“My guess is about 50 per cent of the building was impacted,” Beer added.
He said it is unclear whether anyone was in the building at the time the fire started.
Yesterday at the site, a few employees stopped by to assess the damage, and they greeted one another with hugs.
Emily Harder said she was shocked to hear the news.
“I loved that it was such a successful and busy restaurant. All the girls were so welcoming,” she said.
A regular restaurant goer, who didn’t provide his name, also stopped by the scene. He said he goes to Lou’s Grill three or four days a week, often after ending his midnight shift at work.
He said he had been there with a friend until the restaurant closed just a few hours before the fire.
“They’re just good people – friendly, kind people,” he said of the staff. “I feel really bad for all the people who work there … What a tragedy.”
Hundreds of comments were left on social media from people saying they were sad to hear of the fire and many saying they hope that the restaurant is rebuilt.
The restaurant’s general manager did not return a request for comment from the Abbotsford News by press deadline.