Port Moody buildings destroyed by fire demolished on Wednesday

There’s a hole in Port Moody’s historic heart.

The former Roe & Abernathy grocery store at 2407 Clarke Street, and the Gallery Bistro next door, were demolished by heavy equipment Wednesday after the city issued heritage alteration and demolition permits in the morning.

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The grocery store, which had been vacant for several years, was on the city’s heritage register. It was built in 1912 and was most recently occupied by a bottle recycling depot.

Both it and the bistro were heavily damaged by a fire Sunday evening.

Helen Daniels, the bistro’s owner, said a structural engineer had determined the buildings were no longer safe after the fire, which took 40 firefighters and 10 trucks from Port Moody and Coquitlam about four hours to extinguish. 

Kirk Heaven, deputy fire chief with Port Moody Fire and Rescue, said there were no serious injuries, and tenants living in apartments above the businesses escaped safely.

The volume of water used to fight the fire caused a water main beneath Clarke Street to break late Sunday, creating a sinkhole in the roadway across from the Queen’s Street plaza. Water service to the neighbourhood was restored Tuesday but the busy thoroughfare was expected to remain closed through Wednesday as crews continue to repair and repave it.

Jim Millar, the executive director of Port Moody Station Museum, said the fire could have been a lot worse had it consumed the whole block, which also includes the old P. Burns & Co. butcher shop that was built in 1908 and survived two previous fires. Now home to an art gallery, it escaped with some smoke and water damage.

Millar said the loss of the buildings along the city’s historic commercial district will make it difficult to revitalize the area.

Daniels. who owned the bistro for more than five years and turned it into a focal point for the city's arts and music communities, said it’s “way too soon” to think about her next move.

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