The Cowichan Bay Volunteer Fire Department responded Tuesday around noon to a blaze at the Pioneer House restaurant south of Duncan.
Crews from the Duncan and Mill Bay fire halls were also summoned to the scene.
According to witness Lynda McRae, who spotted the fire as she drove past on the Trans Canada Highway and called 911, it appeared to have started in an attached building.
“It won’t take long before it heads to the main building,” she said.
McRae could see fire trucks headed to the scene shortly after making the call.
“The fire brigades responded quite quickly,” she said.
Staff from the restaurant updated their Facebook page quickly, promising to be up and running again soon.
Long-time employee Tasha Todd, who has cooked at Pioneer House more than a decade, had been working in a back office before discovering the fire in what she dubbed “the smoke room.”
“In my 14 years here, this is the first fire,” Todd noted.
The fire spread from the smoke room to a dumpster outside, but it wasn’t clear how far into the eatery the flames had reached. An official investigation will determine the cause of the blaze and the extent of the damage.