This home

This home

Update: fire destroys apartment house in downtown Williams Lake early Friday

An early morning fire Friday has destroyed an apartment house in downtown Williams Lake.

An early morning fire Friday has destroyed a three-story apartment house in the 100 block of Yorston Street in downtown Williams Lake.

“We don’t know how it started at this time,” Rob Warnock, chief training co-ordinator of the Williams Lake fire department said Friday morning. “We hope everyone got out. The RCMP are still trying to track a couple people down.”

Cory Myhr lived in the basement at the front of the building and said he believed the fire started in the back of the building in the bottom apartment.

“I woke up because the smoke was coming in really heavy,” Myhr said. “I first saw the flames at the back of the building.”

Myhr has lived in Williams Lake for 47 years, but only moved into the building a few months ago.

“I believe everybody got out,” he said.

It’s the second time his home has been destroyed by fire.

“My house in Forest Grove burnt down to the ground and I lost everything in there too,” Myhr said.

Beverly Hance lives directly next door in another apartment house and woke up hearing people yelling that there was a fire.

“We were sleeping and could hear people saying, ‘there’s a fire get out, there’s a fire get out’,” she said. Her daughter looked out, saw the smoke and told her mom the place next door was on fire.

“When I looked I could see smoke was coming out through a door on the back side of the building. There’s an apartment there too,” Hance said. “The smoke started coming in so I closed the windows. When I looked back again the flames were just going.”

Hance called the fire department because she figured some of the tenants in the burning building didn’t have phones.

“They’ve asked to use ours sometimes,” Hance said.

At around 8 a.m. Anna Kalelest’s two young sons were watching the fire from across the street in the back of the family’s vehicle.

They live next door the apartment house that was destroyed.

“I grabbed some blankets that were hanging, put the boys in the car and moved over here to wait for the RCMP,” Kalelest said. “Our cat’s in there and in the upstairs apartment there’s a bird and a rabbit.”

Also worried about his four cats, Ed LeBlanc paced back and forth close to the RCMP emergency scene tape set up to keep spectators at a safe distance.

“I don’t think our place caught on fire, but I didn’t see my cats,” LeBlanc said. “The smoke would probably kill them so hopefully they got out.”

Residents of the building, along with people living directly nearby met with Emergency Services co-ordinator Dave Dickson Friday morning.

“I will find them a place to stay for the next 72 hours and then they will have to find places on their own, but we will have agencies working with them that will all come to the table,” Dixon said before the meeting. “At this point we don’t know how many people lived there or were inside at the time.”

Both 150 Mile House and Williams Lake fire departments attended the fire, attacking it from both the Yorston Street and Mackenzie Avenue sides.

“I brought seven crew members and a truck,” 150 Mile House fire chief Stan McCarthy said. “Williams Lake was here when we got here and they put us up top and moved crews and equipment down below.”

Warnock said the fire call came in at around 5:20 a.m.

“Upon arrival we had a three-story building with full involvement on the back side. RCMP were here on scene evacuating people.”

At this point the cause of the fire is unknown, Warnock said.

By 9:10 an excavator arrived on scene and began dismantling the building.

“The building is unsafe to go into and we still have some hotspots so we’re going to pull the building apart and put the hotspots out,” Warnock said. “It’s the safest way to do it.”

Originally built in 1920 as a Bank of Commerce, the building was located at the corner of First Avenue and Oliver Street.

In 1963, after the bank erected a new building at its present location on the corner of Second Avenue and Oliver Street, the original building was moved to Yorston Street and eventually became an apartment house.








Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Tribune file photo)
Roses to Good Samaritans who helped me during theft

It restores one’s faith in human nature

Wyatt McCullough didn’t make it look easy, but he managed to succeed in the steer wrestling event at the High School Rodeo, held during in 2020 at Alex Fraser Park. This was the first rodeo event held in Quesnel in 2020 after everything else was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Saddle up: Quesnel Rodeo Club planning three 2021 events

Club president Ray Jasper said the rodeos could include rough stock events

Maggie Ferguson continues to deliver pet food to communities in B.C’s Central Interior and North. She hopes to make things easier by eventually purchasing a truck and trailer through fundraising efforts. (Perfect Pastures Animal Sanctuary Facebook photo)
From Delta with love, Maggie Ferguson helps northern pet owners with food

Animal sanctuary owner leads efforts in delivering thousands of pounds of pet food

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

(Black Press file photo)
Homicide team to look into death of 11-year-old Agassiz boy

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read