Regina's fire department said Tuesday that demolition is necessary to fully extinguish a fire that started Sunday at 2170 12th Ave., as well as to complete a search and investigation of the building.
Regina Fire and Protective Services Marshal Randy Ryba said that on the outside, the Gordon Block building blaze looks to be extinguished, and there had been no visible smoke since 3 a.m. Tuesday. But there could still be hot spots on the inside, he said.
That's why fire crews remain on scene in downtown Regina, waiting for a demolition crew to help investigators.
Ryba said that crew will take apart the building, which was built in 1912, piece by piece. That process will start Wednesday morning.
"It's just not a safe place to be or to have my inspectors, my investigators or myself go in. So it's all being done from the outside and above," said Ryba.
Regina Fire Marshal Randy Ryba said that on the outside, the Gordon Block building blaze looks to be extinguished, but there could still be hot spots inside. (CBC)
Investigators will work to figure out if there are any victims in the heritage building, and what might have sparked the flames, he said.
Regina firefighters were called to respond to the fire around 4:45 a.m.on Sunday, the city said in a news release.
Ryba said while there were separate incidents reported of a man tampering with natural gas meters in the area, he does not expect that will be determined to be the cause of the fire.
SaskEnergy also confirms, after its own inspection of the Gordon Block, that crews are "confident" the fire was not related to the string of vandalism.
The building was vacant for more than a decade, and Ryba said the utilities were shut off.
"There is a [gas] meter hanging off the back, but the line has been clipped underground so there is no danger."
The building was actually slated for demolition in 2022, according to Autumn Dawson, director of planning and development services for the City of Regina.
But that was cancelled after the city and property owner, Harvard Developments, agreed to maintain the building instead.
The city said that during demolition, character-defining heritage property elements will be preserved as much as possible.
"That would include the lions' heads and some of the stonework around the opening of the building and some of the lower-level brick," Dawson said.
A demolition team is expected to start work on the Gordon Block building Wednesday morning. (Jessie Anton/CBC)
The city plans to work with Harvard to see what will go there next, but the Gordon Block will not be another parking lot, said Dawson.
"This is within the Victoria Park heritage district. So collaboratively we need to talk about what that might look like and make sure that it's in line with the plan," she said.
Fire and demolition crews are expected to remain at Pat Fiacco Plaza for the rest of the week. That means people will have to avoid the area, according to the city.
In its Tuesday press release, the city said it's working with organizers for events, including National Truth and Reconciliation events on Saturday and a planned Zombie Walk on Sunday, to adapt event plans as needed.
On its website, the Regina Farmers' Market said due to the fire, Wednesday's market will be located on the 2000 block of Scarth Street, between the Hotel Saskatchewan and the SaskPower Building.