Williams Inn fire still under investigation

The Williams Lake Fire Department is still investigating the fire that destroyed one of the buildings at the Williams Inn Friday night.

The Howard Johnson Hotel on Sixth Avenue South in Williams Lake

The Howard Johnson Hotel on Sixth Avenue South in Williams Lake

Fire chief Randy Isfeld says about 30 members from the Williams Lake Fire Department, as well as crews from Wildwood  and 150 Mile House, attended the Williams Inn fire that left about 40 people in that building homeless Friday night.

About 30 more were also affected, as the fire caused power to be lost in another building.

“We had a terrific amount of assistance from the RCMP, which was excellent, and it’s not unexpected,” Isfeld says.

When firefighters arrived, they made an initial attack inside the building and tried to confirm everyone was out safely.

But part way through, the fire escalated and the building deteriorated to a point where firefighters had to get out of the building themselves and couldn’t complete their search, he says.

“The RCMP took it upon themselves to locate these people and confirm that any of the tenants registered in there were accounted for, which was just huge for us and must have been a huge challenge for them but they did a fantastic job.”

Isfeld says Emergency Social Services were also at the scene trying to re-locate or find people as well, because many of them had scattered, and to ensure the tenants had accommodation for the next few days.

“Both of them did an excellent job,” Isfeld says, adding he is also proud of the fire crews that attended.

He says there are several suites in the building that are unaffected.

On Tuesday, Isfeld said the building was still locked down, but asked tenants to contact the fire department to find out if their suite may still be in tact. If so, the fire department can make arrangements to have a firefighter accompany them to their suites.

“There are a few rooms in there that are completely destroyed, especially on the top floor where the roof came down,” Isfeld says. “A lot of those rooms are just pretty much gone, but the second floor is not as bad and on the basement/bottom floor, there is a lot of water damage there.”

Isfeld says he is relieved that the tenants got out safely and that they and the firefighters weren’t injured.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined at this point, though it appears to be accidental. He notes, however, that the fire is still under investigation.

Those who would like to drop off donations for the victims of the fire can do so at Central Cariboo Search and Rescue on Mackenzie Avenue and the Salvation Army. Tenants particularly need items such as dishes and household items.