After day and a half of digging through the charred remains of Panorama Mountain
Village’s 1000 Peaks Lodge, Columbia
Valley Fire & Rescue and the B.C. Safety Authority have produced no leads as to the cause of the Wednesday, February 27th blaze.
“Due to the extreme heat in the area of origin, vital evidence was completely destroyed, giving investigators no option other than to deem the cause undetermined,” Fire Chief Jim Miller states in a Regional District of East Kootenay press release. “We have identified where the fire started and although the cause is undetermined, we can confirm that foul-play and human-related activities were not factors in the fire.”
The fire, which ripped through the top two floors of the lodge early Wednesday morning, displaced dozens of residents staying at the lodge, including seven members of the
Rabbit Hill Ski Steam who were preparing for the U16 CanAm Western Championship. Although visitors were left temporarily homeless by the blaze, the inferno could have had much more drastic consequences if it were not for the efforts of bystanders, including Panorama resident, Phil Marshall.
In a statement given to authorities, Mr. Marshall, who owns the Earl Grey Lodge and restaurant with his wife Clare, noticed flames erupting from the penthouse condo of the 1000 Peaks Lodge while walking along Summit Drive and chatting with a friend, Jason Smith, at around 1 a.m. Mr. Smith, who was carrying a fire department radio at the time, immediately called in the blaze. The restauranteur grabbed a fire extinguisher from his business and gained access to the 1,000 Peaks Lodge through the north stairwell and was joined by another good samaritan, Cam Cole.
The duo loudly banged on each door they could find to warn resident of the quickly escalating inferno.
“Once I had alerted each of the condos, I returned to the penthouse and kicked the door in, being aware that there may have been a flash back,” Mr. Marshall stated in official testimonial.
The sprinklers on the top floor were working, but the area was filled with smoke.
“I grabbed a towel from the kitchen and wet it to put over my face before proceeding through the lounge to the deck because the glass door to the deck had broken and I was able to use the fire extinguisher to put the fire out on one side of the deck before it ran dry.”
He returned to the kitchen and filled a garbage can with water to fight the blaze. Realizing that the fire was out of control, Mr. Marshall performed a hand search of the bedrooms and found them empty.
He quickly fled the building, but not without suffering from prolonged smoke inhalation, which resulted in an evening of sickness and difficulty breathing.
Although his actions were crucial in warning visitors of the blaze, Mr. Marshall remains modest about his role in rescue efforts and would rather not be singled out.
“A lot of people did a great job that night,” he added.