A raging fire at the Brew Creek Lodge could have had devastating consequences for the area had it happened later in the year.
However, snowy, wet conditions and a quick response from local firefighters ensured the fire was contained to one of the lodge’s quaint buildings nestled in the forest.
The building, which was not insured and scheduled for demolition this summer, burned to the ground in a matter of hours. It is believed the fire originated in a sauna.
“We could have had a hell of a forest fire,” said Garibaldi Fire Department Chief Nelson Bastien.
“It would have been pretty dangerous for everyone had trees been ready to burn.”
Garibaldi firefighters arrived on scene at the lodge around 12:30 p.m. Saturday March 1 to find the fire already well underway.
Bastien said they’re lucky to have the mutual aid agreement in place with Whistler as crews arrived shortly after from Whistler Fire Rescue Services to help them out.
“When we arrived on scene the building was about 80 per cent fully involved,” said Whistler Fire Chief Rob Whitton.
The old, all-wood structure burned very quickly and very cleanly, he added.
“When I was there the flames were pumping through the roof like they were under pressure,” added Whitton.
“Quite frankly lacquered cedar is just like solid gasoline nailed to the wall — it just needs a little heat. So it’s nice to look at but it just burns very, very quickly.”
Firefighters drew water from the nearby creek to douse the trees and surrounding area because there is no hydro system in place to deal with firefighting.
Bastien said crews poured 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of water on the blaze.
By 6 p.m. firefighters had packed up, leaving a few contained areas smoldering overnight.
Bastien said cleaning crews knew the sauna had been left on but forget to tell staff about it.
He added: “There’s no suspicion in my mind at all — just one bad accident.”
A wedding party was scheduled to stay in the building Saturday night.
B.C. Transit looks for engineering firm to build transit hub
B.C. Transit is looking for an engineering firm to design and build a new transit hub at a location yet to be determined in Whistler.
The Request for Proposals was posted on the B.C. Bid website at the end of February. It will close in one month.
“The intent is to capture a new transit facility that will also include the hydrogen fuelling station for the hydrogen fuel cell buses,” said Bruce Rothwell, project manager, B.C. Transit Fuel Cell Buses.
Like so many projects that have a 2010 Olympic connection — Whistler’s 20 new hydrogen fuel cell buses will be showcased during the Games — the timeline is critical in this project.
The RFP states: “Time is of the essence in delivering this project so all methods of delivery that can expedite construction will be considered.”
Rothwell said the contract would most likely be issued shortly after the closing date of the RFP.
“By the time that the engineering (contract) is selected we believe that a site will be determined,” he said.
The municipality’s head engineer, Brian Barnett, said a few properties have been looked at as possible transit sites, including the First Nations-owned land opposite Alta Vista (know as the BCBC lands or the Highways Works Yard), as well as the privately owned land just north of the Rainbow substation at Mons Road.
“We haven’t been advised of anything,” said Barnett, in reference to B.C. Transit’s preferred site.
The facility, which is slated to be operational in the summer of 2009, is intended to replace the transit building in Function Junction, which cannot meet all the space requirements needed for fuel cell buses.
The new facility will be designed to support Whistler’s transit requirements for the next 25 years.
The 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses are part of a five-year pilot project funded by the provincial and federal governments until 2014.