Saturday, February 07, 2009

Residents seek relocation while investigation continues into Inlander Fire

The residents of the Inlander have begun the process of seeking out alternative accommodations, victims of Wednesday's fire that caused extensive damage to the downtown hotel residence.

The subject of much controversy over the last few years, the Inlander it would seem is effectively closed for business for the foreseeable future, back in 2004 the building's owner was provided with a repair or demolish order, providing for a thirty day window for the necessary repairs required by the Fire code to be taken care of.

As history has shown those repairs apparently were completed allowing the business to continue to function, though the owner would have a few more run ins with city council over the state of the building over the years.

What remains to be seen is if the Fire on Wednesday was the final chapter of the building's history or if it will once again reopen for business.

The Friday Daily News outlined some of the background on Wednesday's fire and the past history of the controversial structure.

Fire damage contained to one floor but smoke damage is extensive
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, February 6, 2009

Pages one and two

The Prince Rupert Fire Department is investigating the cause of the Inlander fire that broke mid Wednesday afternoon.

According to Fire Department Chief Ron Miller, all occupants of the hotel residence were evacuated and are currently staying at an undisclosed location.

Miller did report, however, that six occupants of the hotel had been provided with alternate shelter.

"The fire damage was contained to the bottom floor of the building but heavy smoke damage was found throughout the building," said Miller in a press release.

Miller said that 16 firefighters responded to the emergency call along with members of the local RCMP detachment, BC Ambulance, BC Hydro, Pacific Northern Gas and Emergency Social Service.

The fire broke out some lime before 2:40 p.m. and immediately drew both a crowd of onlookers and rescue teams to the scene.

About four-and-half years ago, the building was brought to the attention of council because of the deteriorating condition of the its exterior.

Some of the residents living in the Inlander at the time of the blaze have been relocated to the Highliner Hotel where they will have until tonight to find other accommodation.

On April 4, 2004, the building was inspected by Deputy Fire Chief Jim Martin and was deemed at the time to be in need of some repair work.

Martin reported at that time that the building was in violation of the Section 21 of the fire code and needed fire separation material in the boiler room and in all occupied residential units, non-rated doors between occupied units and corridors.

At the time, the owner was ordered to repair the building or demolish it within 30 days.

Eventually, due to the diminishing condition of the exterior, city council then deemed the building as a "nuisance" but made it clear that they were not in the position to tell an owner how to make the building appear on the exterior.

The city's building inspector Allan Scott said that the building has been designated a hotel-residence and has been inspected to ensure that it was livable and said it had eventually received the safety upgrades needed to allow people to live inside.

"Of course, the biggest problem with the Inlander is that you have low-income people living there who have been kicked out of other housing programs and the Inlander is sort of a last stop before the street," said Scott.

According to BC Assessment, the $282,200-building is listed as a bar and tavern.

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