Many residents of Radium Hot Springs had tears in their eyes on Friday as they watched a townsite icon go up in flames.
The iconic Home of a Thousand Faces — the home of woodcarver Rolf Heer — could be seen ablaze on Friday. According to councillor and Horsethief Creek Pub & Eatery owner, Mike Gray, it’s a major loss for the community.
“It’s been just devastating. Unfortunately the fire’s just completely got his place,” Gray said over the phone while watching flames engulf the unique landmark home.
WATCH: Video sent to Global News by Mark Brough shows a popular landmark in Radium Hot Springs on fire.
He said he recevied a call from his boyfriend at about 10:30 a.m. saying, “Rolf’s place is on fire,” and within minutes he was out on the street with the firefighters trying to help with their efforts by directing traffic.
WATCH: An iconic home in Radium, B.C. has gone up in flames. Fire ripped through the popular tourist attraction this morning and little could be done to save it. Jill Croteau reports.
Gray said Heer, who announced last month he’d be selling his home as his health was failing, got out safely and was standing a short distance away watching the blaze, looking devastated.
Heer wanted to see someone take over the quirky house and continue on with the legacy, something the town also wanted.
“We, as a village, wanted to protect his legacy. The vast majority of the residents here certainly have grown up with this in our lives and wanted it to remain an icon on Radium,” Gray said.
He added that the Chamber of Commerce was also looking at establishing a museum society to take over and run it.
Gray said people had gathered around the home by 12:30 p.m., watching together as the landmark burned.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Gray said. “There are several of us with tears in our eyes in Radium today.”
WATCH: Video provided to Global News from the Columbia Valley Pioneer shows a house on fire in Radium Hot Springs.
Heer, who is a forester by trade, built the entire home and did all the wood carvings himself.
Highway 93 just outside Radium was closed in both directions as of 1 p.m. on Friday, with travellers being redirected through Field and Golden. Columbia Valley RCMP said the roadway would be closed for the afternoon with no estimate on when it may be opened.
LISTEN: Radium Woodcarver Rolf Heer joins The Morning News to discuss selling his home