Every resident of the single-room occupancy hotel that caught fire in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood on Monday (April 11) is believed to be accounted for, officials say.
They gave an update just after noon on Tuesday. Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the building has suffered significant damage and will need to be demolished.
Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry said approximately 60 firefighters responded to the scene.
“The fire took hold quickly, spreading to a lot of empty spaces, ceilings, walls and floors,” she said.
The first crews to arrive were focused on people needing immediate rescue and medical attention. Fry said there was no update on the cause of the fire as the investigation is in its “infant stages”, though they believe the fire started on the second residential floor of the four-storey building and spread from there.
Fry said the investigation will look into claims from residents that smoke alarms were not properly functioning and fire extinguishers were not full. The Winters Hotel, which is over 100 years old, did have a full fire inspection in September and was determined to have adequate protections.
The fire broke out at the Winters Hotel at around 11 a.m. Numerous people had to be pulled from the fire. Five people were taken to hospital, three of them considered stable and two in serious condition. Numerous other people were treated at the scene, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services.
One occupant had jumped from the building to escape the blaze.
Seventy-one residents were permanently displaced from the Winters Hotel and another 73 residents at the nearby Gastown Hotel have been temporarily moved. Fry said it was heavily contaminated by smoke, which she called toxic and full of carcinogens. It and 13 businesses also fall within the collapse zone of the Winters Hotel.
BC Housing is working with the property owner Atira Properties to find interim housing for the displaced residents.
Vancouver Police Department Inspector Dale Weidman said they have no evidence that the fire was suspicious, but that they won’t rule out arson until their investigation is complete.
The area around the Winters Hotel has been significantly damaged by smoke from the fire. Abbott Street remains closed as crews continue to assess the situation. Two people remained in hospital in stable condition Tuesday.
Multiple fundraising efforts have been launched to help residents and businesses impacted by the fire. Donations of clothing and household items are welcome at Bette’s Boutique at 305 Main Street. A GoFundMe has also been launched to support businesses impacted by the blaze.
6 people had to be rescued, including 1 who jumped from the building. 5 people were sent to hospital, 2 of whom remain in hospital in stable condition.
— Jane Skrypnek (@janeskrypnek) April 12, 2022