Two bodies have now been found in the wreckage of the Winters Hotel — a heritage building in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood that burned down last week.
Earlier on Friday (April 22), the City of Vancouver released a statement that one body had been found in the building. Demolition work was paused as the B.C. Coroners Service and the Vancouver Police investigated. A second body was found Friday afternoon.
Investigators have not said whether the individuals died during the fire or afterwards. Neither has been publicly identified.
When firefighters battled the blaze on April 11, they did a primary search of the building and initially reported that all occupants had been accounted for. Normally, a secondary search is conducted, but firefighters were forced to exit the building and engage in a “defensive attack” to douse the intense flames.
“The fire was too extensive and situation deemed too dangerous to allow firefighters into areas on floor two (where the fire originated) and above, which means an ‘all clear’ was not determined,” the city said.
The investigation has been referred to the Vancouver Police who are working with the B.C. Coroners Service.
On Wednesday it was determined the fire was caused by unattended candles in a residential unit on the second floor of the building and has been ruled an accidental fire.
Five people were sent to hospital with injuries and 144 people have been displaced as both the Winters Hotel and the neighbouring Gastown Hotel had to be evacuated. Both hotels were single-room occupancy buildings, or SROs, housing some of the city’s lowest-income residents.