Dan and Marian De Vita, owners of the Texada Island Inn, say they are overwhelmed after fire tore through their hotel last week.
Volunteer fire crews from both Van Anda and Gillies Bay fire departments worked to extinguish the mid-afternoon blaze at the island’s only hotel on Wednesday, May 25.
“We’re totally overwhelmed,” said Dan.
Overwhelmed, he explained, by the destruction and damage of the fire, but also with the outpouring of support from Texada and Powell River.
“We are humbled and overcome with appreciation for the outpouring of support,” he said. “All the phone calls, emails and texts have been tremendous.”
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s fire, it is unclear what will happen with the Texada landmark. Dan confirmed that the business did have limited insurance coverage, but it is still unknown whether they will be able to repair the damage, or whether the building will have to be torn down.
Powell River Regional District Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick,said the community has been left in a state of shock and has done the best it can to help out in various ways.
“This is a giving, caring community. It’s the type of community that rallies around its needy,” said McCormick.
Not only did both of the island’s fire departments attend, but so did the community. McCormick said neighbours brought food for firefighters and both of the local quarries sent equipment to help battle the blaze. Islanders have also pitched in to help with some of the cleanup.
“Right now the community is sending Dan and Marian their love, sympathy and support; all those intangible things that mean everything,” said McCormick.
In addition to the tragedy of losing a family business, Dan said he is worried about all the people who relied on the inn as a community centre, particularly the seniors and his employees who have been left jobless.
Another restaurant on the island has agreed to take on one employee, maybe two, but Dan is trying to find the others work, a difficult task when his hotel was the third largest employer on the island, he said.
Fundraisers for the families of those left jobless are being organized on Texada and in Powell River, said McCormick.
The De Vitas, who own a home in Powell River but had a suite at the inn, spent Sunday afternoon sifting through the burnt remains of the building, looking for personal effects. The building, though standing, suffered extensive damage from smoke, water and fire.
“All the windows on the top floor have been blown out and two sections of the roof have caved in,” he said. “The devastation from the fire inside is amazing.”
Fire crews were not able to enter the building to fight the fire from inside, so they had to knock holes in exterior walls to gain access to the fire’s hotspots.
What was not consumed in the fire was soaked and destroyed by the efforts to put it out, said Dan.
“Everything is just demolished,” he said. “It’s devastating.”
While the cause of the blaze remains unconfirmed and is under investigation, fire officials believe it could have been started by an electrical issue where power comes into the building.
Everyone managed to get out of the building and no one was injured.