Victims of fatal Gastown fire officially identified
The two people whose remains were found after a fire destroyed a building in Vancouver's Gastown have been officially identified.
Police said the remains were those of Mary-Ann Garlow, 68, and Dennis Guay, 53. The Vancouver Police Department said in a statement that their identities were confirmed by DNA and "their next-of-kin have been notified."
On April 11, flames tore through the Winters Hotel, a single-room-occupancy building housing 71 people. Firefighters rescued several residents from the blaze but were not able to thoroughly search it.
Demolition of the fire-ravaged building was halted on April 23 when crews discovered a body. Several hours later, a second person's remains were found. The tragic discovery raised questions about earlier statements from the housing provider that everyone who lived there was accounted for.
The Winters Hotel is operated by Atira Property Management Inc. After the two bodies were discovered, CEO Janice Abbott told CTV News that the organization's staff were devastated by the news, although it was not entirely unexpected because Garlow had been reported missing.
"We're not clear who the second body is," she said at the time.
In a statement to CTV News Saturday, a spokesperson for BC Housing said it worked with the police, the fire department and Atira in the immediate aftermath of the fire to confirm the safety of residents.
Work is ongoing to "better understand how the two residents were inaccurately accounted for during building evacuation, and if there are any necessary adjustments to policy and procedures for buildings under BC Housing management or that are publicly owned," the statement said.
The investigation into the fire is ongoing. The fire department has said the preliminary findings suggest it was caused by unattended candles. The building's sprinkler system was disabled at the time, having been turned off after being activated by a fire three days prior.