During the afternoon on Friday, Jan 3, new owners of the Coalmont Hotel, Sylvia Sandquist and Chris Berringer experienced a scare that brought fire, police and ambulance services out to the community of Coalmont.
While Sandquist, alone at the time, was taking down holiday decorations a smoke alarm sounded alerting her to a problem with a pellet stove.
She immediately saw burning along the pipe and doused it with a fire extinguisher, unplugged the stove and moved it away from the wall.
About an hour and a half later, the room just filled with smoke.
“I just freaked,” exclaimed Sandquist. Shaken, she called the fire hall number first and upon hearing the answering machine, she quickly realized her mistake and dialed 911. Dispatch sent out the call to fire, police and ambulance.
Sandquist then called her partner Chris Berringer, chef at the Brown Bridge Pub in Princeton, to alert him to her situation. He left for Coalmont immediately.
With the smoke getting heavier, Sandquist knew the old hotel was in great danger. She began to open the wall, and spray the flames with the fire extinguisher. Berringer arrived on scene and began helping his partner battle the fire.
Chief of the Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department, Jody Woodford arrived next, just shortly before the other members with the Tender truck (water shuttle) and the Tulameen Engine.
Coalmont does not have fire hydrants, so the water for fighting fire is transported by truck.
“It was a great, major team effort,” said Chief Woodford.
The crew got in and the fire was put out.
“They were all great,” said a very relieved Sandquist, “There was quite a mess, damage to the wall and one broken window to get at the fire, but we got it out.”
“The firefighters were ecstatic to see the hotel still standing when they arrived,” said Chief Woodford. “It’s a huge relief for everyone.” She adds, “It is important for all residents to remember that in the event of any emergency, 911 should be called—not local land line numbers.”
Residents have made this mistake in the past, due to the fact they know volunteer firefighters, but volunteer halls are not manned 24 hours a day, so, it is imperative to call 911.
The 102 year old hotel has seen many owners come and go over the years, but remains as the centerpiece of her community. Built in 60 days, opened in 1912, the three storey building is rich with history and is quite dear to the community.
Some folks believe that the hotel may even be haunted. Numerous “unnatural occurrences and apparitional experiences” have been reported through out the years. The Canadian Paranormal Society has even visited to investigate.
In the summer of 2012, the community celebrated the 100 anniversary of the hotel.
Sandquist and Berringer purchased the Coalmont Hotel in October of 2013. They have been running the pub since and are working towards having the kitchen and dining room re-opened as well.
“It is going to take a long time,” said Sandquist, “But we want to do the whole building.”
The partners moved up to the area about five years ago from the Coast. They first stayed at Kennedy Lake, then moved into to Princeton.
They were caretakers of the Coalmont Hotel during the winter for previous owners, “And that’s when we fell in love with the place,” said Sandquist.
“We just love Coalmont,” she added, “So we waited for the right time and opportunity to purchase the hotel.”
Coalmont Hotel is home and business in one for Sandquist and Berringer.
They are very grateful that their historical building, business and home was saved and are looking forward to moving ahead with their plans.
Visit www.coalmonthotel.com to keep up with hours of operation, special events or to learn more about the history of the Coalmont Hotel and the community that loves her dearly.