A blackened and charred appearance may be the last impression made by the Radium Hot Springs Lodge before it fades into the history books, after a fire on the afternoon of Sunday, October 6th damaged the historic building, just weeks before it faces the wrecking ball.
More than 25 firefighters from the Radium, Windermere, Invermere and Panorama Fire Departments responded to the large fire at the vacant lodge.
The call came in to the Radium Hot Springs fire department at 3:40 p.m., and crews were on scene within 15 minutes, said fire chief Dave Dixon, who described the fire as a mostly superficial burn in the conference room located below the dining room area of the lodge.
No one was injured in the blaze, which was fought with a tanker truck at the hotel’s entrance level above the highway, and via fire hydrants from the hot springs pools on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park.
“We didn’t know what the situation was, whether it was a minor grease fire or the whole building was on fire, and maybe starting to tumble down onto the highway” said Mr. Dixon. “We had no hydrants at the building, and we needed a tanker up on top.”
The fire didn’t significantly affect the structure of the building, which is mainly concrete, he added.
The building was slated to have some hazardous materials removed in November before the building is set to be demolished by Parks Canada next February. It’s not yet known how the fire may affect those timelines.
Crews were able to contain the fire to the main building on Sunday afternoon, and returned to the scene on Monday morning to continue with mop-up and watching for hot spots.
The cause of the fire is undetermined, but human involvement is likely, as the unoccupied building had no electricity or propane running to it, confirmed Mr. Dixon. Mattresses and carpets have remained intact since the lodge closed its doors for good in March 2011.
The blaze at the old lodge is the second significant motel fire in Radium Hot Springs this year, after the Ritz Motel was completely destroyed in a daytime fire on June 9th.
“It’s disturbing, but they’re abandoned buildings, and its extremely difficult to keep people out,” said Mr. Dixon, who noted the terrain around the hot springs lodge made it a tricky fire to fight.
The 78-room lodge opened in June 1965, on the site of a lodge and bungalows originally constructed in 1925 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The building’s architectural design was meant to compliment its surroundings, and the popular lodge featured an elevator installed to bring guests directly from the lodge down to the pool level.
Parks Canada was unable to provide any comment on the fire prior to the Valley Echo‘s deadline.