Drake Inn evacuated after late night fire
Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 06:00 am
A late night balcony fire on a second floor hotel room caused the evacuation of 28 Drake Inn patrons, along with those in the pub on Friday (Feb. 16).
Canmore Fire-Rescue received the call at 12:46 p.m. and arrived on scene less than a minute later.
“It was a fantastic save,” said Fire Chief Walter Gahler. “We were fortunate enough that we were returning from a previous call, so we had a fully staffed truck at the firehall. We were able to respond in under a minute.”
When firefighters arrived, the balcony was fully engulfed in flames reaching 10 to 15 feet above the roofline.
About a minute after they arrived, firefighters were able to knock it down and move straight into search and rescue to ensure the building was evacuated.
“We got water on that fire within a minute or so and that again kept it basically to the balcony area and just a little bit of an intrusion into the suite. But I’d say two or three minutes more and the whole suite was going, and the roof,” said Gahler.
He said it’s too soon to comment on the cause of the fire, but added it doesn’t appear to be criminal in nature.
“We’re looking at some possibilities that it started in the balcony area, but until the official report is released I can’t say,” said Gahler. “At this point it seems to be an accidental fire start.”
Drake Inn general manager David Atkinson said 11 of 25 rooms were booked at the time of the fire and all the guests were evacuated safely.
“I’d like to give a special thanks to the Ramada for helping us accommodate everybody we had to evacuate,” said Atkinson.
“Nobody was hurt, but people were a little shocked.”
Gahler credited RCMP and EMS for smooth evacuation of the hotel and for helping with crowd control.
“We had a real challenge of course because at 1 a.m. the Drake is a pretty active and popular pub and patrons had been there for the better part of the evening and that created a complexity that we were able to manage and the RCMP really helped with that,” said Gahler.
At the height of the fire, 14 firefighters were on scene as well as a pumper, rescue and tower truck. Two light duty vehicles were also at the hotel in support.
At one point, the fire department received a second call for an alarm at Spring Creek, which forced the department to reassign an officer and a couple of firefighters to investigate.
“We were able to manage them both, but we were right at that edge of needing to call in some mutual aid,” said Gahler.
“I think it’s good for the town to know that if there’s a fire it doesn’t mean that the rest of the town is not covered. We immediately start putting in contingencies to make sure the town is covered for medical and fire calls for the rest of town.”