In just a handful of hours, 133 years of Comox Valley history was reduced to rubble in late February when Comox’s Lorne Hotel burned to the ground.
What was reportedly the community’s first hotel and the oldest licensed drinking establishment in the province was destroyed by an early-morning fire.
The Comox Fire Department was first on the scene around 2:30 a.m., and assistant chief Jim Lariviere said there was a lot of smoke and flames at the back of the building.
Soon, 30 firefighters were fighting the blaze, and there were three major vehicles, as well as ancillary vehicles, explained Lariviere, noting the Courtenay Fire Department was also called in for mutual aid.
The firefighters started to attack the interior of the Lorne, but they had to start an outside attack when conditions deteriorated inside, according to Lariviere.
There were no sprinklers, but the building did have a fire alarm system, according to Lariviere.
The Lorne Hotel was a real family business for George Kacavenda and his wife and three children. Kacavenda bought the pub in 1996.
“I bought it in the interest of I always thought that was something I was interested in doing, being in the hospitality business,” he said at the time. “It ended up being a family business. The kids were young when I bought it, but eventually, all the kids worked there.
“It’s just been a great place. There’s been a lot of great people I met here.”
“It’s meant a lot to me,” he added. “I met so many good people here. It’s been hard work, and it’s been a lot of things, and there’s been a lot of pluses that came out of it.”
At the time, Kacavenda said he would like to rebuild, but he didn’t know if that was an option.
“There are so many unknowns with the insurance,” he said. “I don’t even get to choose my options. One thing’s for sure — it will never be like that again. It just had so much character and was a staple in Comox.”