Firefighters are still working to control a fire that started in Quaaout Lodge Sunday morning, according to Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band Kukpi7 James Tomma.
Tomma told Castanet Kamloops firefighters from Skwlax Volunteer Fire Department and Chase Fire Rescue were called to the resort, which appears to have suffered heavy damage as a result of the blaze.
Tomma said the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band will have more information in the coming days regarding the incident, but he said the community intends to rebuild.
“We did have an emergency meeting with our lodge employees and management. There's nothing that we can do about the fact that a major part of our lodge is gone. But as a community and everything, we're going to work through this, we're going to rebuild,” Tomma said.
He said the Quaaout Lodge was an “integral part” of the First Nations community and outlying communities.
“We're one of the largest employers in the area, so we’re not going to walk away. We can get through this,” Tomma said.
According to guests staying at the lodge, the fire started between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., with everyone evacuated from the building. Videos and photos shared to social media show flames and a thick column of dark smoke rising from the building.
There is no official word yet on the cause of the fire.
Tomma said lodge staff have accounted for all guests and there have been no injuries as a result of the fire.
"At one time, there was a worry that there might have been two dogs left in there, but when they opened the door to go in, the puppies ran out. So we didn't even lose the puppies,” Tomma said.
Tomma said there were historic and cultural artifacts in the lodge, but to his knowledge they haven’t been destroyed.
The Grand Chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chefs has expressed sadness over the fire.
In a social media post, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said he loved the Quaaout Lodge, described on its website as the pride of the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band.
“Great food! Indigenous menu! Many good memories. Totally sad day! Our hearts go out to the Adam’s Lake and the Secwepemc People,” the post said.
Frank Caputo, Conservative Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, also expressed his sympathy on Twitter.
“This brings tears to my eyes,” Caputo said.
“Quaaout Lodge is such a beautiful place with amazing staff. I was there a few weeks ago. I hope everyone is safe.”
Members of the South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce took to Facebook on Sunday and said they are keeping the band in their thoughts.
“Our hearts go out to our friends at Quaaout Lodge and Talking Rock Golf and the Little Shuswap Indian Band for the devastating fire this morning,” the chamber of commerce said.
“Our thoughts are with you all.”