‘This is savage’: Strip club owner suspects arson in Williams Lake fire

Fire investigators look for clues into Friday’s fire at Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge that claimed the strip club and the café next door, New World Coffee and Tea House. Angie Mindus photos
One of Diamonds and Dust’s owners, Gail Boxeur said gang activity is to blame for Friday’s fire downtown. Angie Mindus photo

Fire investigators began the painstaking task of sifting through the charred rubble of two historic downtown buildings in Williams Lake Sunday afternoon looking for answers into Friday’s fire.

Williams Lake Fire Department Fire Chief Erick Peterson said representatives from the WLFD, RCMP and a few private insurance companies are going through the debris to look for cause and origin to “try to figure out what happened here Friday morning.”

Read More: Fire claims two historic buildings in downtown Williams Lake

The investigators are expected to continue their work Monday, before the scene can be cleaned up and reopened.

Peterson said at this time he has no opinion as to whether the fire is suspicious in nature, however, Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge co-owner Gail Boxeur, who was on scene Sunday afternoon, certainly does.

“It’s very suspicious,” she said.

The strip club was the scene of a shooting incident April 25 where it is alleged a suspect fired a gunshot into the ceiling. That incident was followed by two failed arson attempts May 2 and again August 15.

Read More: Staff of Diamonds and Dust, fire crews put out fire at downtown business

“There are a lot of strange things going on in this community [with] gangs. We have a hard and fast policy where we don’t allow gang members in, and you know we may be the worst enemy because of that but we try to do our best.”

In the previous arson attacks, Boxeur said the fires were put out with help from employees and customers of Oliver’s Bar and Grill across the street and their own employees and customers as well as the fire department.

On Sunday, Boxeur said she felt many emotions from the loss, which not only destroyed the strip club, but also the popular eatery New World Coffee and Tea House.

“A little lost, a lot hurt, just displaced, all of us, not only our business but the other businesses have suffered too and they continue to suffer,” said Boxeur.

“We’re just trying to pick through the pieces to see where to start to rebuild and do whatever … we’re thinking rebuild but we’ll see.”

As a result of the fire seven employees at Diamonds and Dust are out of work, and another seven next door at New World, Boxeur said. The historic buildings were lost — Boxeur’s and New World being close 90 years old, and the barber shop, was turning 100 next month.

“I feel heartbroken, heartbroken for all of them. You know because this isn’t going to be done in a week it’s going to be months and they’ll feel that all the way from New World all the way down to Mings,” Boxeur said. “This is savage … it affects everybody, emotionally, financially.”

Boxeur is thankful to the comunity for the support they’ve received, including from their neighbours across the street, Cariboo Community Church, who offered to assist them and their staff in any way they could.

As for whoever caused the fire, Boxeur believes karma will come come back to them.

“It’s just really hurtful.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

City to request conservation officer

Predatory wildlife appear to be bolder

City auditors reports are in

“We are now playing catch-up on all major assets,” CFO said

Tourism Prince Rupert to benefit from grant funding

Redirect dollars for recovery and travel inside B.C.

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

B.C. woman launches First Nations search, rescue and patrol program

Linda Peters envisions trained searchers ready to go at moment’s notice in each B.C. First Nation

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

Most Read