Public safety minister orders coroner's inquest into Vancouver hotel fire deaths

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B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth announced a coroner's inquest into the fatal fire that broke out at the Winters Hotel in Vancouver, which was linked to the deaths of two people. The SRO was demolished on April 20, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth announced a coroner's inquest into the fatal fire that broke out at the Winters Hotel in Vancouver, which was linked to the deaths of two people. The SRO was demolished on April 20, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is launching a coroner's inquest into two deaths linked to the April 11 fire that swept the Winters Hotel in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood.

"As the number of fire-related deaths increases in British Columbia, it is imperative that we take action to ensure vulnerable people are protected from fire hazards," Farnworth said in a statement.

Unattended candles in a tenant's room caused the fire, according to Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

Later in April, demolition crews discovered two bodies, who police have identified as 68-year-old Mary Ann Garlow and 53-year-old Dennic Guay. Their bodies were found a week after the blaze.

The 115-year-old heritage building was torn down later that month.

Alongside the two deaths, five more people were injured and nearly 150 people were displaced from their homes.

In his statement, Farnworth said his thoughts are with their families and other residents of the building. "We are deeply saddened by this terrible loss of life," he said.

Farnworth said an inquest jury will hear evidence from witnesses and report their findings. The jury could also make recommendations to prevent future deaths.

"Everyone deserves to be safe in their homes. Recommendations from the inquest into the Winters Hotel deaths could help prevent fires in single-room occupancy buildings and save lives," Farnworth said.

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