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Aftermath of Belmont Hotel fire in Prince Rupert

13 firefighters, full apparatus and still cooling down hotspots 15 hours after firecall

More than 15 hours after the first call to attend a downtown building fire in the 400 block of Third Ave. Prince Rupert Fire Rescue crews were still in attendance on May 2.

Hot spots where the decimated Belmont Hotel once stood were being monitored by firefighters, with water pumps cooling off the debris after the nighttime fire on May 1.

“At 8:55 p.m., fire crews were dispatched to a confirmed structure fire on the 700 block or 3rd Ave,” Chad Cooper, deputy fire chief, said.

Initial witness reports to The Northern View indicated the fire appeared to have started in a closed-up business, Rose’s Oriental Food and Gifts, which was adjacent to the Belmont Hotel.

“Upon arrival, firefighters found heavy fire coming from Rose’s Oriental shop. Firefighters got a quick knockdown on the fire. The fire transitioned into the roof and jumped into the Belmont.”

Cooper said crews worked aggressively to stop the fire from spreading across the flat torch down tar roof. However, once the tar starts burning, it becomes difficult to put the fire out.

Stories excavating was called in to bulldoze the hotel due to an old balloon construction method of the building, which has no fire breaks and creates void spaces for fire to travel to quite quickly, Cooper said.

“Fire crews aggressively tried to stop the fire from laterally spreading through adjoining buildings. However, due to structural integrity concerns, fire crews transitioned to the defensive. Heavy equipment was brought in to help cut a fire break.”

It took thirteen firefighters and three trucks to contain the blaze and get it under control by 2 a.m. on May 2. No injuries were reported by liquor store staff or first responders.

“We did a search of the Belmont, but we didn’t make entry into Roses because there was too much fire damage. There was already collapse in there,” Cooper said.

The investigation into the fire’s origin is ongoing and may take a few days to determine the cause, the deputy fire chief said.

 K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist 
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