The cause of the blaze at the Ocean View Hotel on Feb. 18 is under investigation, Jeff Beckwith deputy fire chief said. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Suspicious blaze at oldest hotel in Prince Rupert

3 fires keep Prince Rupert Fire Rescue hot on their toes

Prince Rupert’s oldest hotel, The Ocean View sustained extensive damage after a morning fire on Feb. 18, Jeff Beckwith, deputy fire chief told The Northern View. It was just one of three fires in the city, during the week, the detachment has responded to, he said.

Crews responded to the 8:20 a.m. call to the more than 100-year-old hotel building and extinguished a fire that had started on the outside of the structure. Classed as suspicious, Beckwith said the cause of the blaze which took 13 members of the crew to work on is under investigation.

“We had half the crew dealing with suppressing the fire and the other part of the crew started going door to door getting people out of the hotel,” Beckwith said.

“There actually was extensive damage. It started on the outside it rolled into the men’s bathroom and into the bar or the restaurant area and tripped the sprinkler alarm in there.”

Adding to the damage, Beckwith said, the fire breached a void space in the attic which is always a tender time in firefighting because the fire can not be assessed until it breaches. Often the fire gets inside the walls and spreads through the building, he said.

“Due to the age of the building they didn’t have the fire safety stops that they have in current building construction. So we got to it at the right time,” the deputy fire chief said.

“The wind was very aggressive this morning which leads to how fast fires burn as well. So, everything aligned for us today and we had a successful extinguishment.”

“It’s been very steady for us, which isn’t necessarily good,” Beckwith said. “We also attended a fire at SKB Auto Salvage on Metlakatla Road on Valentine’s Day.”

The 7:43 a.m. call started in one of the vehicles which spread to several other vehicles and a building.

“The vehicles are parked very closely together in the back, and then it caught the warehouse building on fire,” he said. “We were able to catch it before it spread into the inside of the building too much.”

The fire was not suspicious in nature, Beckwith said.

As well, during the week crews responded to a grass brush fire on Feb. 17 in the Seal Cove Road area.

“People were burning some scrap lumber. It didn’t get away too much on them, but we had to attend to put that out as well.”

“Little fires like this mean that we’re being effective early. The big fires, like what happened downtown and Love Electric fire, attract a lot of attention because they’re huge,” Beckwith said. “But it’s the little fires that are the successes because we’ve been able to stop them before they turn into big events.”

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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The charred exterior of Prince Rupert's oldest hotel, The Ocean View can be seen after a suspicious blaze started on the outside of the building on Feb. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

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