Staff were inside a Vancouver coffee shop during explosion on Friday (VIDEOS)

Feb 27 2023, 10:54 pm

It was a terrifying moment for staff inside a Vancouver shop Friday night after an explosion erupted just metres below them, sending flames metres high into the air.

Two people suffered burns and minor injuries, according to officials, and the historic Marine Building was damaged, which initial reports described as an underground electrical fire.

Several companies and businesses are located inside the 1930s skyscraper; however, the JJ Bean Coffee Roasters located on the first floor near West Hastings and Burrard streets appears to have taken the brunt of the explosion.

The company confirms two staff members were closing up around 6 pm that evening when the explosion happened.

Jesse Neate, retail operations with JJ Bean, says in addition to the impact on staff, the damage to the business itself is extensive.

Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive

Marine Building fire Vancouver

Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive

Marine Building fire Vancouver

Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive

“Smoke and water damage is significant. Multiple glass windows and awnings have shattered,” Neate told Daily Hive. As well, there is “severe drywall and wood damage.”

An espresso machine, computers, tills, and other equipment were also destroyed.

Pictures of the aftermath show a burnt black mark on the front of the business.

Daily Hive


Daily Hive

At this time, Neate says they are expecting to be closed for at least four to eight weeks.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services say there were multiple challenges in battling this blaze, including reports of people trapped on the upper floors.

“Crews did an incredible job of attending to patients, protecting the fire exposed building, containing the fire until the power was shut off and searching the building,” VFRS Captain Matthew Trudeau said.

“Electrical fires are challenging due to the contents still being potentially energized and the risk to our crews putting water on it. After the power was shut off we were able to extinguish the fire and contain the incident,” he added.

BC Hydro, which has taken over the investigation, says it has received reports the two people injured are in stable condition.

“Investigating the cause of the fire is a top priority that we take very seriously, and we want to assure the public this is a rare occurrence and that we place high priority on ensuring our electrical equipment continues to be safe and reliable. BC Hydro regularly maintains its equipment, and the electrical vault was last inspected less than a year ago and found to be operating normally,” Susie Reider with BC Hydro told Daily Hive Monday.

“We know some businesses were affected by this, and we’re committed to working with them through the claims process as quickly as possible…We’ll have more to share on this once the investigation is complete.”

Vancouver police say the cause of the fire is not believed to be criminal in nature.

With files from Sarah Anderson

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