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Fernie victims identified

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the identities of three men who died after a workplace incident at Fernie Memorial Arena on Tuesday.

They were Wayne Allan Hornquist, 59, and Lloyd Stewart Smith, 52, both of Fernie; and Jason Donovan Podloski, 46, of Turner Valley, Alta.

Smith, an off-duty part-time paramedic, was working "at his other job with the City of Fernie when he died," BC Emergency Health Services said in a statement.

The agency says Smith worked in the East Kootenay area for more than 15 years.

On Thursday, Norm McInnis, chief administrative officer with the City of Fernie, said an alarm went off at the arena about 4 a.m. Tuesday, prompting the municipality to shut down the rink and call in a specialist for emergency maintenance.

Shortly before 1 p.m., emergency crews responded to a 911 call and arrived to find someone providing CPR to a person outside the building.

"We all have questions as to what happened," McInnis told reporters. "Something went terribly wrong."

Fire Chief Ted Ruiter said response crews originally entered the facility Tuesday afternoon and discovered two bodies, but left for safety reasons after performing an interior search.

Emergency responders were able to re-enter the building and recover the bodies Wednesday.

An evacuation order will remain in place until at least today while crews investigate whether there is any lingering danger, he said. A statement from the city on Thursday said about 95 displaced residents are being put up in a hotel.

"Getting the evacuated residents home remains our top priority, but we need to make sure that we get them home safely," Ruiter said.

Two of the men who died were city employees. McInnis said the municipality will shut down its operations Friday to give staff time to grieve.

A spokesman for the parent company of refrigeration business CIMCO confirmed the third victim worked for its Calgary branch.

The Coroners Service and WorkSafe BC continue to investigate the incident.



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