Large fire reported at Quaaout Lodge and Spa in Chase, B.C.
Resort is Indigenous-owned and is run by the Little Shuswap Lake Band, part of the Secwépemc Nation
A large fire at the Quaaout Lodge and Spa, an Indigenous-owned resort in Chase, B.C., has caused significant damage to the guest wing of the building, according to officials.
Quaaout Lodge is run by the Little Shuswap Lake Band, which is part of the Secwépemc Nation. According to the resort's website, it was initially conceived by the band in 1979 and established in 1991.
According to RCMP, emergency responders received a call about a structure fire at the lodge just after 8:30 a.m. PT Sunday. The lodge is located around 70 kilometres east of Kamloops, B.C. in the central Interior.
More than 20 firefighters responded to the fire. Chase fire chief Brian Lauzon told CBC News that he believes the fire started in the attic of the hotel and spread through the roof. No injuries were reported. The cause is not yet known.
"Flames were shooting out of the ceiling. The total third floor was, looks like, destroyed or at least half of it is destroyed," said guest Dan Thiessen, who was eating breakfast in his room when fire alarms went off after 8 a.m.
"I heard the fire alarm and it continued. So I thought, 'okay, something serious'," Thiessen said. "I got dressed and went outside. That's when we looked back and the flames started to shoot out the top vents and we knew that it was serious."
Thiessen, from Kelowna, B.C., spoke from the parking lot outside the lodge where other evacuees had gathered. He said some guests were playing golf at the time of the incident and were unaware of the fire.
Rushed out of our rooms and hotel at Quaaout Lodge this morning near Chase, BC. Fire has taken control of main hotel room section. RCMP still looking for 4 people who they think left in their cars. <a href="https://t.co/RSEJjKDTV3">pic.twitter.com/RSEJjKDTV3</a>—@StedyPhoto
Toronto resident Joel Levy, another lodge guest, was in Chase writing a travel article about the region. He said a firewall at one side of the lodge prevented the blaze from spreading to the lobby and other areas of the resort — something confirmed by Lauzon.
Levy was eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant when he heard fire alarms go off. He said he managed to get out, but without many of his possessions.
Some guests were unprepared and left in their bathrobes, according to him. He said one guest even lost their wedding ring worth thousands of dollars.
"For most of the guests ... it's mostly just going to be stuff that can be replaced," he told CBC News. "But in such a tight knit community, this lodge provides so many jobs.
"That's the biggest long term effect. It's hard to imagine immediate solutions for that problem."
According to Thiessen, the fire started to spread very quickly because the guest wing of the lodge is a wooden structure.
"My heart goes out to the Indigenous First Nation people and all that this building means to them," he said.
Guests have not been allowed to return to the hotel, according to Thiessen, with officials saying any possessions in the lodge were damaged by fire, smoke, or water.
Grand Chief Stewart upon hearing about the Quuout Lodge catching fire: <br>“I loved the Quaaout lodge! Great food! Indigenous menu! Many good memories. Totally sad day! Our hearts go out to the Adam's Lake and the Secwepemc People”—@UBCIC
According to Kúkpi7 James Tomma, chief of the Little Shuswap Lake Band, the resort's conference centre and restaurant appear to have avoided most of the fire damage.
Tomma said more details about the fire are expected on Monday.
With files from Jenifer Norwell, Akshay Kulkarni, and Tom Popyk