British Columbia

8 people escape chalet fire on Mount Washington unharmed

Quick-acting firefighters battled the flames throughout the night, making sure the large blaze did not spread to nearby buildings.

Quick-acting firefighters ensured the large blaze did not spread to nearby buildings

Firefighters fight Saturday's chalet blaze on Mount Washington as witnesses look on. (Lorne Fletcher)

One moment, Steven Inglefield and his friends were playing cards, enjoying the warmth from the fireplace. Then, they noticed smoke begin to fill the ski chalet they were staying at in Mount Washington alpine village on Vancouver Island. 

Only minutes after all eight of the log home's occupants had gotten out safely, the building's entire roof was ablaze. The fire's large flames lit up the night sky for hours and could be seen across the resort community.

According to Inglefield, flames had leapt from the fireplace to a nearby storage area under the stairs around 10 o'clock Saturday night. Once they made sure everyone was safe, he said they called the Oyster River Fire Department, which began servicing Mount Washington in late 2017. 

Four firefighters staying in a nearby chalet arrived immediately, followed by an additional 15 to 20 coming from Oyster River about twenty minutes later. Shifts of firefighters worked through the night and into early Sunday afternoon to ensure the fire didn't spread to other buildings. 

But the building where the fire started, one of the mountain's original chalets, couldn't be saved. 

"Unfortunately, there was nothing that they could do," Inglefield told CBC affiliate CHEK News. "The place was gone. It was then about containment."

"The firefighters did an awesome job," remarked Oyster River fire chief Bruce Green. 

Green said it took a long time to put out all hotspots because of the safety challenges presented by the snow. As of Sunday morning, firefighters had not yet entered the building.

This weekend's blaze was the first the Oyster River Fire Department had to respond to on Mount Washington since the hall began servicing the mountain in December 2017. 

Before late 2017, Mount Washington residents and visitors were left to fend without any fire protection services, leaving past chalet fires to burn without interruption.

With files from CHEK News