Monday, May 03, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Monday, May 3, 2010)

The latest details on Friday's fire downtown, a look at Crab season and Enbridge's Chairman hears back from local First Nations, some of the items of interest from the Monday news cycle.

Prince Rupert Daily News, front page, headline story
THE EPICUREAN FIRE - THE AFTERMATH AND ITS IMPLICATIONS -- The latest information on Friday morning's fire at apartments above the old Epicurean restaurant and an examination of what is to come for the former residents, the majority of whom were on various forms of income assistance.

Crab season is almost upon the North coast and the Daily provided a look into the state of the crab fishery and the preparations in place for the upcoming season.

The recent talking points from Patrick Daniel, the Chariman of Enbridge make it to the Daily News as they review some of his comments of recent days and sought out some feedback from  local First Nation leaders. Sharp eyed readers of our blog will remember we featured Daniel's thoughts to the Globe and Mail with our posting of the weekend, where the full scope of his conversation with the national paper regarding the Northern Gateway project  was provided.

The Sports section features a look at weekend action in the Prince Rupert Floor Hockey League as the league champion Far West was crowned after the conclusion of the championship game.

(Daily News Archives for Monday, May 3, 2010)

The Epicurean fire — the aftermath and its implications
Crab season climbs out of its shell
The ongoing debate regarding Enbridge’s plans 
Ontario adjudicator ready for Rupert 

The Northern View
RCMP investigating fire in downtown Prince Rupert as an arson-- The Northern View updates a few of the details regarding Friday's fire in downtown Prince Rupert (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
No new items were posted to the CFTK TV 7 site for Monday

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North
No new items were posted to the Daybreak site for Monday

Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

The Daily News
Front page, headline story

The Epicurean fire — the aftermath and its implications
The clean-up from Friday’s fire continues as local authorities continue to investigate
By George T. Baker 
The Daily News
Monday, May 3, 2010 

As rain poured down upon the streets of Prince Rupert this weekend, excavators, local police and the fire department continued to piece 
together what could have caused a fire to erupt at the former Epicurean 
restaurant building.

The building caught fire early Friday morning, leaving the residents of five apartments on the second floor without a home, clothes and food. Signs of a life now lost were still visible to the public this weekend – chairs, 
mattresses, and pieces of singed paper hanging out of the second floor 
apartment complex.

Twelve people lost everything but their loved ones to the fire.

They were to have shelter provided by the public, which included 
emergency food, clothing and a three-day stay at a local hotel. Most of the hotels in Prince Rupert had made space available for those in need.
Most of the residents were on income assistance and do not have the financial wherewithal to deal with 
losing their home. So, what happens next is of great concern to the Prince Rupert Emergency Social Services.

Director Michael Curnes was just returning from a month’s vacation and was pressed into action with the help of former director Danielle Dalton.

Dalton told the Daily News that the local Salvation Army had stepped up to make a significant contribution to the relief efforts.

“In cooperation with PRESS, the Salvation Army and Captain Gary Sheils is always jumping in with both feet to help to fill in whatever gap is needed,” said Dalton.

Both Dalton and Sheils were on the scene Friday morning surveying the damage to the building.
“The people who lived there have lost absolutely everything,” said Dalton.
A brother of building tenant Denise Clifton, Donald Price told the Daily News that the fire had been 
devastating to the family.

Clifton’s family of four lost everything to the fire and, like all the 
residents affected by the fire, is badly in need of clothing.

“I am asking for help so they can start over. If you can help with 
anything please contact me at 250-600-3654.

“They really need help with clothes, size 11 in men’s shoes, pant size 34, men’s large shirts, clothes for an eight-year-old girl, size 2 in shoe size for girls, 24 pant size,” asked Price.

By mid-day some families such as the family of Tom Sampson had helped out with furniture.
It is not uncommon for Rupertite generosity to show itself during times of need. And Prince Rupert locals have once again done what they can in the midst of a crisis.

Clayton Morrison was compelled to help Friday morning.

Contacted by an income assistance officer aware of the financial condition locals were living under, the manager of Tim Horton’s on Second Ave. West was asked if he would provide a coffee and maybe a muffin for the hungry.

Instead he offered a full breakfast.

“She called to say that a few of the people affected by the fire were able to have a coffee. We decided that since they had a horrible night, we would offer them a free breakfast on us,” explained Morrison.
Morrison served two people, but had been ready for four, and said in a small community like Prince Rupert, it was really important locals came together in a time of need.

“We just felt sorry for the people who were involved. And the guys that came this morning are some of our regulars to begin with, so I was surprised to see that,” he said.

As of Friday, Prince Rupert RCMP had the forensic identification team out on the scene along with Fire Department looking into what could have possibly started the fire.

It’s been called suspicious by Fire Chief Dave McKenzie.

Sgt. Jim Vardy told the Daily News that while all the tenants were accounted for, that did not mean that there weren’t other people around.

“We still have to rule absolutely everything out,” said Vardy.

Rumours are swirling around town about the cause, but definitive answers about the fire aren’t likely to come for some time – if they do at all.

“There are some people who we are speaking to who are of some interest, but there have been no charges,” said Vardy.

The Epicurean is just the latest apartment building destroyed in a fire in the same downtown city block over the past decade.

In 2004, the Elizabeth Apartments on First Ave. West, a Second World War landmark — a former administration building for the U.S. military before it was converted to housing – burned down, destroying 44 households and affecting 100 people.

The cause of that fire was officially ruled undetermined nearly five years to the day of the start of the Epicurean fire.

Last year, the Inlander Hotel burned down, displacing at least six residents, though local social workers have said there was probably more than that living there.

Four males, including three teens, were in police custody regarding the arson attack that destroyed the low rent apartment.

The fire was believed to have been arson the Prince Rupert RCMP and Fire Department because there was no hydro or gas connected to the building at the time of the fire.

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