Fire temporarily shuts down Quebec City's ice hotel

Quebec City's ice hotel will be shut down for at least two days after a small fire damaged part of the 45-room structure, which is completely sculpted out of ice.

Cause of the fire, which started in a guest room, is still unknown

Management at the ice hotel says the fire may have been caused by a candle in one of its guest rooms. (Radio-Canada)

After a seemingly perfect start to the season, with temperatures well below the freezing point, Quebec City's ice hotel was hit by one of its fiercest opponents: fire.  

A small blaze broke out in one of the hotel's 45 guest rooms early Tuesday morning, forcing the evacuation of the structure, made completely out of ice, at the Village Vacances Valcartier winter park.

"When I received the phone call they had to repeat twice that there was a fire in the ice hotel,"  said manager Jacques Desbois.

While the flames did not spread and caused little damage to the structure itself, the smoke quickly made its way through the hotel.

The cause is still under investigation but Desbois said the hotel has ruled out the possibility of an electrical problem.

"In a room made out of ice and snow there are few clues to look at," he said.

Witnesses said the fire broke out after a candle fell on a guest's sleeping bag, according to Radio-Canada.

Desbois wouldn't address that claim. He said there are a few candles in every room to create ambience, and that the hotel is looking into the possibility they had something to do with the fire.
According to witnesses the fire broke out after a candle fell on a guest's sleeping bag. (Radio-Canada)

A first in 18 years

Guests staying in the room where the fire originated were able to alert staff quickly and emergency crews arrived within 15 minutes, according to Desbois.

He said the 33 guests were brought to Valcartier's main hotel for the night.

A few people were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation but were quickly released.

"Everyone responded the accurate way to make this was an event from which we can learn, and make sure this first time will be the last time in the hotel's life," said Desbois.

The hotel will be closed until at least Wednesday as crews chip away at the cleanup.

Desbois said he had to convince people he was not joking when he started making calls to find a cleaning company because "there really was a fire in the igloo."
A structure in the shape of a castle is made from ice and snow, with flags put on the tops of the structure.
The ice hotel is one of the attractiosn at the Village Vacances Valcartier, located near Quebec City. (Carl Boivin/Radio-Canada)

"Having white walls and crystal ice everywhere, it doesn't require a lot of soot to have an effect on the walls, ceilings and sculptures," he said.