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Destroyed Texada Island Inn was social centre of island: fire chief

The owners of the Texada Island Inn in Van Anda say they don’t know what the future will bring after a fire heavily damaged the half-century-old hub, a major employer for the community. Everyone got out of the inn and its busy restaurant safely.
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Fire broke out Wednesday afternoon in the 15-room Texada Island Inn in the village of Van Anda.
The owners of the Texada Island Inn in Van Anda say they don’t know what the future will bring after a fire heavily damaged the half-century-old hub, a major employer for the community.

Everyone got out of the inn and its busy restaurant safely. No one was injured.

“We would like to thank everyone for the tremendous support today,” said a post on the Inn’s Facebook page. “It’s been quite the day around here. Mom and Dad currently don’t have any internet. (The hotel was the Internet hub for Van Anda, sorry everyone!)

“They wanted us to let you know they are grateful for all the kind words, thoughts and prayers and everything else,” the post said. “We’re still unaware of the cause of the fire, or what tomorrow will bring, but everyone is safe and sound.”

The fire broke out in the 15-room hotel at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Van Anda firefighters arrived about five minutes after being called and Gilles Bay responded within about 20 minutes. Firefighters pounded on all the doors of the inn to ensure everyone was out of the building.

The wood-frame building burned quickly and within two hours the flames licked up the walls and destroyed much of the roof, Van Anda Fire Chief Mike Craggs said Thursday.

The inn’s roof has partially collapsed, four rooms are unsalvageable, and six have major water and smoke damage, Craggs said. “I suspect the amount of damage is going to be a loss.”

The inn’s pub and restaurant are smoke damaged but not destroyed, Craggs said.

Firefighters tackled the blaze for 12 hours, he said.

As volunteer firefighters, crews are required to tackle fires from the outside, cutting holes in the walls to spray water through, as opposed to fighting the blaze from the inside.

Craggs said 42 volunteer firefighters were able to contain the fire to the building, preventing it from spreading. Large water trucks were provided by Imperial Limestone and LaFarge North America-Texada Quarrying.

The fire chief will be inspecting the ruins today but suspects the cause of the fire was electrical or caused by the hotel’s dryers. The inn’s laundry room was the first to be consumed in flames. That’s where the main electrical panel for the hotel is located.

The Texada Island Inn was built in 1962 and has been undergoing renovations for the past five years. It is owned by Dan and Marian DeVita.

“It’s the meeting place for everyone. We have an additional restaurant but it’s the social centre of the island,” Craggs said.

According to the 2011 census, there were about 1,100 people living on the island, the largest island in the Strait of Georgia, with its northern tip across from Parksville.

The inn employs at least 10 people. “On an island with limited job opportunities, that’s maybe 20 per cent of the jobs here [in Van Anda],” he said. Many other people on Texada work at the two quarries, he said.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com