The roof of the historic Salmo Hotel has been badly damaged by fire.
Flames were seen coming from the upper storey around 1 p.m. today. Firefighters from Salmo and Ymir arrived quickly and got a handle on the blaze, but it was still burning inside the attic as of 2:30.
No one was believed to be in the rooms on the second floor, but people in the downstairs bar were evacuated along with a neighbouring business. No injuries have been reported.
The cause is undetermined, but the fire department says it started somewhere in the attic.
Dozens of upset locals have been watching the fire this afternoon. It’s not clear if the building can be salvaged given the extensive damage.
Markus Herzig has been a resident in the area for 24 years and is one of the many locals devastated by Friday’s event.
Herzig said he was dining at the hotel’s restaurant the day before the fire and had just told his peers how much he loved the building’s atmosphere and its history.
“I was in having burgers just last night and I was saying how much I love this hotel because it’s the Last of the Mohicans,” he said. “It’s like the last true hotel that’s got character and awesome food and good vibes, non-pretentious and a real icon to the community. It’s the saddest day in Salmo history in a long time.”
Herzig ran to the site after he saw a friend’s photos of the blaze but arrived when the flames were no longer visible from outside. When he saw the state of the building, he was in disbelief.
“Somebody sent me a photo of it and I ran down as fast as I could. I was kind of hoping they would be able to save it but with the amount of water they’re having to pour into it, it’s going to be hard to say if they can save the building.”
The hotel was built in 1931 on the site of a previous hotel that burned down that year.
While it was originally a Tudor-style building, it was given a new facade in the early 1980s that fooled many people into believing it was much older than it really was.
The hotel was purchased in 1955 by Steve Gora Sr. and remained in the family until 2021 when it was sold to mining executive John Mirko. It had recently been painted.
Herzig says the tragedy will be felt by many locals who have worked for generations to preserve the hotel’s historic meaning to the community.
“It’s just a really sad day. It’s a very historic building and there’s lots of stories that were told in there. The woman who had just sold this building owned it for 40 years and it was a true passion for them. Same for the new owner. He was very passionate about keeping it very historic and iconic. This is a piece of history that I hope we aren’t going to lose.”