The fate of the derelict Arrowview Hotel on Second Avenue rests with an insurance company for now, following a structure fire Thursday night.
The building has been mostly vacant except for a caretaker on site for a few years, and has been on the City of Port Alberni’s derelict building list.
An electrical failure appears to have caused the fire, according to Port Alberni fire Chief Tim Pley.
The call came into the Port Alberni Fire Department at 8:40 p.m. on April 2. According to Pley, “the fire response consisted of a full contingent from PAFD, one engine from Sproat Lake Fire Department and two engines from Beaver Creek Fire Department.”
“Upon arrival, fire crews found visible fire in the interior of the building with smoke issuing from the soffits and eaves,” Pley said.” The fire was managed with master stream lines from the exterior and then hand-lines interior.”
According to Pley, while the stairwell was burned out, the floors did not suffer much damage from the fire.
Crews searched the entire building to ensure that there were no victims inside at the time of the blaze.
Pley said that “the property was occupied by a caretaker who was away at the time of the fire.”
The derelict building has been a source of concern for the city for more than a year now.
According to city planner Scott Smith, the city opened the “building standards file on the old Arrowview Hotel in February 2014.”
Smith said that the building must adhere to the city’s building standards bylaw which states “property owners safeguard, secure and maintain buildings and that authorizes officers, employees and agents of the municipality to enter any property to ascertain compliance with the municipality’s bylaws.
“We’ve been corresponding with the owner to have the building come into compliance with the building standards bylaw,” Smith said.
What will happen to the building now will depend on the extent of fire and water damage from last week’s blaze, said Smith.
“My understanding is that there’s an insurance company involved,” he added.
Pley said he didn’t know what would happen to the building going forward.
“I don’t know there was a lot of damage from the fire itself,” Pley said. “The issues with this building are with the lack of maintenance.”
Pley said the building has been in a state of serious disrepair for awhile, and has been a concern. The roof has been leaking and many of the gyproc walls had holes punched into them. “The foundation on the downward side is starting to fail so there’s structural concerns,” he added.
The building has been abandoned for several years; it was one of several sites in Port Alberni used to shoot the movie thriller Insomnia, starring the late Robin Williams, in 2001. World renowned artist Laird Campbell and clothing designer Brenda Laine once owned the building, using the first and second floors for their art and design studios.
The current owner of the property could not be reached by the News’ press time.
— With files from Susan Quinn, Alberni Valley News