British Columbia

Windy Point Inn near Mackenzie, B.C., 'a complete loss' after fire

A long-running rest stop north of Prince George, B.C. has collapsed after an early morning fire that closed Highway 97 for two hours.

Long-standing restaurant, gas station north of Prince George collapses after blaze

Fire crews stopped the flames from spreading to nearby gas tanks, but could not salvage the Windy Point Inn or restaurant. (Cole Thorne)

A long-standing rest stop north of Prince George, B.C., has collapsed and is smoldering after an early morning fire that closed Highway 97 for two hours.

Police blocked off Highway 97, three kilometers south of the junction with Highway 39 leading to Mackenzie, for approximately two hours while crews worked to contain the blaze.

The Windy Point Inn was completely engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived. (Cole Thorne)

Crews were first called to the Windy Point Inn, a local landmark which includes a restaurant, gas station and bunk houses at around 7:43 a.m. PT Tuesday morning, according to the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George.

Although the buildings are outside of fire protection areas, the danger posed by flames near gas pumps and a propane tank prompted crews from Mackenzie Fire and Rescue to respond, using water from private companies and the McLeod Lake Indian Band.

District spokesperson Renee McCloskey said the building has "collapsed on itself" and was already "fully involved" in flames by the time crews arrived.

There were no fatalities and no injuries reported.

'The last good stop'

Mackenzie mayor Pat Crook said it appeared the building was "a complete loss."

"The roof has fallen down, it's a real shame," he said. "It's been there for a long time, it's been there longer than the town of Mackenzie has."

The rest stop has been in operation since at least the 1950s.

The Windy Point Inn on Highway 97 pictured before Tuesday's fire. (Google Maps)

Logger Cole Thorne, who witnessed the fire before the highway was closed, said it was the "last good stop" on drives between Prince George and Chetwynd.

"I've been going there since I was born," he said.

Thorne said he had fond memories of the restaurant's signature "Wimpy Burger," an oversized creation he would split with his father, who also drove the highway as a police officer

"[It was] just that old trucker stop that everyone would go to," he said.

With files from Audrey McKinnon and Wil Fundal