2nd body found during demolition of Vancouver hotel destroyed by fire

·2 min read
A body was discovered by investigators and the demolition crew working at the fire-destroyed Winters Hotel on Abbott Street. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
A body was discovered by investigators and the demolition crew working at the fire-destroyed Winters Hotel on Abbott Street. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Two bodies have now been found during the demolition of Vancouver's Winters Hotel, which was destroyed by fire on April 11.

Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry said the painstaking demolition process was halted at around 11:30 a.m. Friday when a spotter noticed something.

"We have an experienced crew on scene contracted by the building owner and they are very precisely removing bits and pieces of debris in the areas that are the most heavily damaged," she said. "We have people looking from above and if they recognize something they call an immediate stop," she said.

Because the fire rendered the structure unsafe, a full-scale search of the building was not possible when the flames were first extinguished.

"This is a very tragic situation ... these are some of the most at risk people in our community," she said. "It was a very large, aggressive fire and it would definitely have been difficult for someone who was trapped to escape."

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service confirmed Friday evening that a second body has been located.

The deceased have not been identified and the B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the deaths. VFRS said the demolition will resume Monday with electrical power to be restored to the neighbourhood through the weekend.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

The fire was started accidentally by unattended candles in a second-floor suite, displacing more than 70 residents living in the single-room occupancy (SRO) housing. The four-storey brick building on Abbott Street also housed several businesses and a restaurant on the ground floor.

Another 73 tenants of the Gastown Hotel, an SRO next to the Winters Hotel, have also left their suites until further notice because of toxic smoke damage.

VFRS said the sprinkler system in the Winters Hotel was shut down and waiting to be serviced on April 11 due to another fire in the building a few days earlier.

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