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Photos: Winters Hotel demolition completed after fire at historic Gastown building

Second body still hasn't been identified

The demolition of the Winters Hotel has been completed.

The historic hotel had stood at the corner of Waters and Abbott streets since 1907 until April 28, 2022. After the April 11 fire destroyed much of the upper levels' interior it was deemed too dangerous to enter and slated for demolition. That was due to be completed April 22, but the discovery of two bodies interrupted the process.

"Given the size and fire damage to the 203 Abbott building, a VFRS spotter was in place on top of a neighbouring building to assist the demolition crew during the process as well as fire investigators and crews on the ground," says the City in an email. "Once it became clear that a deceased individual was in the building the VFRS extricated the body and turned the investigation of death over to the Vancouver Police Department who engaged the BC Coroners Service."

Mary Ann Garlow, a resident of the building, has been identified as one of the two people who didn't make it out, but it's unclear who the second is. Atira Women's Resource Society, which ran the SRO hotel residences in the building, says as far as they know everyone has been accounted for.

"We have no information on the second body," says Janice Abbott, Atira's CEO. "We spoke to Winters’ residents on the day of and in the immediate aftermath of the fire and again when the second body was reported in the media, and no one has indicated to us they had a guest who isn’t accounted for."

The BC Coroners Service investigating the two bodies, but says it can't disclose information about an open case.

The rubble will be left at the site for the next two weeks as per provincial regulations. While Abbott Street remains closed at Waters, more of it has opened up.

"The City will work to open as much of the sideway and roadway as possible to support residents, businesses and visitors in the area," states the city.

In addition to the BC Coroners Service investigation into the cause of death for the two people found inside, Vancouver fire investigators are investigating the fire as well. A preliminary investigation has identified an unattended candle in a residence as the likely cause.

 

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