The cause of the fire that damaged a room and left several tenants without accommodation at the Rusty Anchor Inn last weekend has been ruled accidental, Port Alberni fire chief Tim Pley said Monday.
“Our fire inspector went into the hotel on Sunday and it appears it was a hot plate that was left on that started the fire,” Pley said.
The Port Alberni Fire Department responded to a call of a fire at the former Somass Hotel on lower Argyle Street at 11:25 p.m. “…with everything we had,” said fire captain Peter Aspinall.
Firemen brought the blaze under control by 11:50 p.m. and crews were still on scene at 2:30 a.m.
There were no injuries or fatalities, Aspinall said.
The Saturday evening fire damaged one room and left smoke and water damage in its wake but the damage could have been much worse, Pley said.
“The fire was minutes away from taking the whole building with it.”
The hotel’s owner made improvements to the older building to meet fire code requirements and that likely saved the rest of the structure, he added.
The building’s walls were gyproced, wooden room doors were swapped for fire safe ones and a “stand pipe” that helps firefighters to pump water into the building was installed.
“The gyproc and doors basically held the fire in and restricted it to one space,” Pley said. “If it weren’t for those the fire would have engulfed the whole building.”
And the measures also prevented a tragedy.
According to Pley, firefighters thought they evacuated all the tenants from the building after the fire started. But when firemen went back inside after the fire was doused they found a man in his room who slept through the whole thing.
Residents had to find other accommodations until the smoke and water damage could be repaired. Pley couldn’t say when they could be back in their rooms at the Rusty Anchor Inn.