Calgary

Long-term resident now homeless after fire destroys historic Pincher Creek hotel

At least one long-term resident of a southern Alberta hotel is out of a home, after the historic building burned to the ground on Saturday.

'I don't think you could ever recreate the spirit and the love that was in that building'

The aftermath of Saturday morning's fire at the historic King Edward Hotel in Pincher Creek, Alta. (Caitlin Walker)

Alexander Fleming was working at a convenience store Saturday in Pincher Creek when he heard the news: the historic building he called home was going up in flames. 

"Someone came in around 3:30 or 4 p.m. and they were like, 'hey did you hear what's happening? did you see the fire trucks go by?' and I'm like, no? … and they said, 'you're probably looking for a new apartment' and then he handed me his cellphone," Fleming said.

"There's already flames, just flames shooting out the back of the fire exit door. He showed me a picture of that and I could see, based on that, I'm probably not going to have anything left."

The King Edward Hotel, which dates back to 1904, was destroyed. Nobody was hurt. RCMP are investigating what caused the fire.

Fleming has rented an apartment in the building for a year, and said there were two or three other long-term tenants. All of the furniture in the apartment was his — and it's all gone. 

He has celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes, meaning he also has to deal with high medical expenses and strict dietary needs. 

His sister has started a GoFundMe to support him — and Fleming says he's been able to replace his medical supplies — but he says he worries about finding a new living space as affordable as the hotel was that will fit his needs, like a place with no shared kitchen.

But he said the community is helping him get back on his feet. 

"These people care about me and I care about them, even if I don't really know them. And it's it's a great place," he said.

David McQuaig, the hotel's owner, said a lot of time, love and money went into restoring the old building and now he's not sure what's next.

"For the first time in my life, I'm not going to work seven days a week," he said.

He said he's met with the insurance company and once the investigation is complete, he'll decide what to do going forward.

"I don't think you could ever recreate the spirit and the love that was in that building," McQuaig said. 

With files from Helen Pike, The Calgary Eyeopener

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