PENTICTON - The Riverbed Bistro in Keremeos was destroyed by fire early this morning, the third fire at the restaurant in the past four years.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at about 3:30 a.m., Monday, June 15, at the restaurant directly across the street from the local firehall.
Keremeos Chief Jordy Bosscha says the building was fully involved when the crews arrived at the hall.
“Flames were visible coming out of the back of the building and thick, black smoke was coming out of the top and front. It had been burning for some time,” he says.
“As we began to get water on it, the upper floor just lit up."
Firefighters say they could feel the heat from the building at the firehall when they first arrived on scene. Fifteen volunteers from Keremeos and four from Kaleden fought the fire until about 7:30 a.m.
An excavator was brought in to bring the remaining walls down and allow firefighters better access to the building.
The building, which contained a restaurant, bar and rented rooms on the second floor, was not open for business at the time of the fire.
No injuries were reported in the blaze, which is under investigation. It is not known if the owner had insurance.
This morning’s fire was the third in four years at the bistro.
There have been several changes of ownership over the ten year life of the restuarant, but troubles became pronounced in 2011 when then owner Inderjit Chema attempted to burn the building down using a small jerry can filled with $10 worth of gasoline in May of 2011.
While under different ownership, another fire took place on February 1, 2014. The blaze burned the upper floor of the building and was deemed suspicious, but no charges were laid.
The second floor was rebuilt in May 201, and the building sat unoccupied up until this morning’s fire completely destroyed the structure.
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— This story was updated at 10:48 a.m., Monday, June 15, 2015 to add more photos.