Fire tears through Vancouver supermarket, restaurant

09/22/2012 06:13 EDT | Updated 11/22/2012 05:12 EST
Fire crews continue to investigate after a fire tore through a Vietnamese supermarket and neighbouring restaurant in Vancouver on Friday evening.

The fire broke out at about 8 p.m. PT near Broadway and Brunswick Street.

Employees at the neighbouring restaurant say they got out just in time.

"It was very scary," restaurant employee Jennifer Phan told CBC News. "All the customers come out and then I check everybody safe, I make sure everybody out, and then I run away. Very scary."

Fire department battalion Chief Phillip Trenter says both buildings were engulfed when crews arrived.

"They tried to get inside the building. When they were inside, it became too dangerous, it looked like it was going to collapse, so they brought everybody out of the building," he said.

"One wall collapsed and damaged the gas line, which increased the fire."

'It was intense'

Chris Bateman watched the fire as he waited for the bus.

"There were 15 to 18 fire trucks and police everywhere and the smoke," he said. "It was a major fire. I’ve lived in Vancouver for 43 years and I've never seen a fire even close to this. It was intense."

The supermarket was destroyed in the three-alarm fire and the building was demolished early Saturday. The restaurant is still standing but suffered extensive water and smoke damage.

The restaurant owner’s son hopes the family business will reopen soon.

"They are a little bit in shock but they are just happy that everyone is okay and no one got hurt," said Robinson Luu. "We are just waiting to see how it all turns out."

Officials say it’s unlikely the cause of the fire will be determined because the damage is too severe.