Tears flow as grand lady burns


It was an emotional morning for residents of Grand Forks after one of the oldest buildings in town burned down Wednesday morning.

The 110-year-old Grand Forks Hotel burned to the ground at the hands of a suspected arsonist.

Police are questioning a person they have in custody.

Grand Forks Mayor, Brian Taylor, was at the scene of the fire Wednesday morning.

Taylor says someone set fire to the Winnipeg Hotel two blocks away about 3:15 a.m.

He says firefighters were able to contain that fire to a stairwell, however, once they got the call for the fire at the Grand Forks Hotel, it was already too late.

Photos sent to Castanet at the height of the fire show flames breaking through the roof reaching some 12 metres or more in the air.

"There was some panic around town when people thought there was an arsonist running around," says Taylor. "I understand police do have a suspect in custody."

Taylor says a number of Grand Forks residents stopped by the iconic hotel Wednesday morning to take a look.

"Many people were in tears."

The mayor says he feels for the 20 people, both full and part time who are now without a job as a result of the fire.

While there were no injuries reported Taylor says there were some tense moments for an elderly gentleman who lived in the hotel.

"George got out, but now he has nowhere to live."

Taylor says the hotel was a meeting place for residents in Grand Forks.

He says councillors planned to stop by for a drink after Monday's council meeting, but the place was packed.

While it's too early to know what will become of the property, Taylor says it would be ideal if the owner re-built the hotel to the way it was.

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