3 dead following suspicious motel fire in Prince George
Guests who got out say they narrowly escaped, and no alarms went off to alert them of fire
Three people are dead following a suspicious motel fire in Prince George Wednesday morning.
RCMP said the deceased were found inside the building around 12:30 pm, approximately three-and-a-half hours after the fire started.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Craig Douglass said the fire appears to be suspicious, but the cause has yet to be determined.
The B.C. Coroner's Service also said that it is still working to determine the exact cause of the deaths.
"Our fact-finding investigation is in the very early stages," spokesperson Andy Watson said in an email.
Watch: Flames erupt through the roof before firefighters manage to douse it:
Narrow escape for survivors
Guests at the downtown Prince George Econo Lodge who managed to escape say they narrowly escaped injury or worse and that it was screams, rather than alarms, that alerted them to the danger when a fire, the RCMP is now calling suspicious, broke out shortly before 9 a.m. PT.
Smoke and flames could be seen pouring out of three suites, and at least one wing appears to be heavily damaged.
Guest Cody Walker said he was awakened by the smoke in his second-storey room and had to jump off the balcony to save himself.
"I opened the front door and flames came bursting at me and [I] fell on my back and I kicked the door shut," he said. "So I picked up all my stuff ... and jumped off the balcony, held onto the edge, then did a tuck and roll. It was about 15 to 18 feet."
The Hazelton man said he was shaken but not injured.
Guest Hannah Arthur Roberts said she was first alerted to the fire by the sound of screaming.
"We went to open the door and there was just flames billowing into the space. So we grabbed the dog and got out. We heard some kids screaming before we opened the door but there was no fire alarms going off."
A reporter on the scene also saw an elderly man emerge from the motel two hours after evacuations started.
The fire has shut down Highway 16 (Victoria Street), the main thoroughfare through town.
Crews from all four of the city's fire stations were involved in tackling the fire, and at least one ambulance was on the scene, as well.
Pamela McCall and Andrew Kurjata