The RCMP have taken the lead in investigating the fire that gutted the former Tidebrook Hotel on Gertrude Street, Saturday night.
The building was without power or gas, therefore the cause wasn’t likely mechanical.
Instead, investigators are leaning towards a human cause, RCMP Cpl. Jen Allan said.
“The investigation is active and ongoing but we haven’t determined a cause yet,” Allan said.
“We are trying to determine whether the cause was accidental or intentional.”
The building was vacant but there were signs that people were using it, Allan said.
Witnesses on the night of the fire reported seeing people going in and out of the building at various times and even taking shelter in the basement during the nights. No injuries or fatalities were reported, Port Alberni Fire Chief Tim Pley said.
The fire broke out sometime before 9 p.m. and was still fully engulfed at 10:30 p.m. Crews from Port Alberni, Beaver Creek and Sproat Lake fire departments battled the blaze.
The building was owned by Jack Purdy and was recently part of a City of Port Alberni tax sale in September.
Abandoned properties with dilapidated buildings are more susceptible to fire incidents.
“Basically, if a building looks like it’s economically viable then it will likely be functional,” Port Alberni Fire Chief Tim Pley said.
“If it’s not economically viable, then it won’t likely be occupied and issues can arise later.”
An abandoned home burned down and the hotel portion of the Tidebrook was torn down following a fire last January.