Skip to content

Investigation reports show cause of three Squamish fires

Here are some more details about the Tantalus Mall, Schoonover home and Squamish Mills fires.
The Family Day Tantalus Mall fire's aftermath.

When there is a home or business fire in Squamish, the fire department does not usually release the cause. 

That information is instead held within the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. 

Asked why the District of Squamish fire department, unlike some other jurisdictions, doesn't release this information directly, the District sent the following explanation:
"Squamish Fire Rescue follows a reporting protocol that aligns with the District’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Policy. Fire investigation reports are submitted to the Office of the Fire Commissioner. As these reports may involve privacy matters, ongoing investigation, possible insurance implications and personal information such as death or injury, the District does not release cause of fire."

The Squamish Chief, therefore, filed a request through the ministry to find out the causes of some well-known fires in Squamish over the last year. 

Thankfully, no one was killed or injured in any of these fires.

The Wigan Pier fire

When the blaze at 40340 Tantalus Rd. broke out at Tantalus Mall on Feb. 21, 2022, there were 10 people inside the building, according to the fire report. 

The report says that "the specific point of origin" for the fire cannot be determined due to the amount of damage. However, pictures, videos and interviews point to the early stages of the fire starting in a second-floor apartment after a resident had been smoking on a deck, then fell asleep on the couch. The person was awoken by fire in their apartment. 

The estimated cost of damage is estimated at $2,259,200. 

The mall had residential apartments over commercial units.

"The building did not have a sprinkler or fire alarm system due to the age of construction," the report states.

Schoonover home

The Nov. 14, 2022, house fire at a log home at 41747 Government Rd. was started in the first-floor living room where an "old electrical lamp was plugged into an extension cord and wrapped around the lamp, which added some resistance," the report reads. "The lamp cord was in poor condition and shorted through broken insulation, which ignited the wooded lamp base and spread from there." 

According to the report, three people were in the home when the fire started. 

The total loss estimate was $190,000, the report states.

Squamish Mills fire

The Nov. 6, 2022, fire at the Squamish Mills building located at 1555 Pemberton Ave. resulted in a total loss estimated at $1,000,000, according to the report. 

No one was in the building at the time of the blaze.

There was no sprinkler or fire alarm system in the building, which was built in the early 1970s. 

The fire is said to have originated in an office, but the cause could not be determined, the report said. 

"The fire cause cannot be determined due to the structural instability of the building requiring demolition," the report states. 

"The area of origin was determined from initial fire scene reports and witness accounts. The fire originated in the office (front) area of the building, which also contained a large mechanic shop in the rear." 

The fire moved through the building from the front to the rear "with minimal fire separation and caused the remaining structure to become unstable," the report continued. 

An excavator was brought in to mitigate the structural collapse hazard.

**Please note that this story was updated after it was first published to include an explanation of why the municipality of Squamish does not release fire investigations to media, as is done in some other jurisdictions.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks