A man has been left homeless and with no possessions to his name after a fire broke out at Pincher Creek’s historic King Edward hotel on Saturday.
Emergency crews responded to the early morning fire just after 4 a.m.
It’s a sight Alexander Fleming said he will always remember.
“It was just a solid frame of flames that was shooting out of the back of the building,” Fleming said.
“Vehicles were just arriving on-scene and those flames were pretty intense. All I was thinking was that I wouldn’t have anything survive because it looked like the entire top floor was on fire.”
According to RCMP, the area surrounding the hotel was evacuated, and the public was asked to avoid the area.
Main Street was closed between Hewetson Avenue and Bev McLachlin Drive, emergency officials said.
The hotel was evacuated safely and there were no reported injuries, police said.
The fire prompted an Alberta Emergency Alert due to fire hoses across the road on the Hewetson Avenue Bridge.
Fire crews spent the entire day battling the blaze.
Dave Cox, emergency services chief, said one of the reasons why they struggled with the structure fire is because of how old the building is.
“We started an offensive attack, but the fire behaviour forced us into a defensive operation. So, at that point, we were just working to save the exposure of the other buildings on the block,” Cox said.
“Being three storeys, there’s just a lot of material involved in it, so it probably burned for three hours before it collapsed and then with the collapse, now we’re just trying to open it up so we can put the rest of it out.”
Fleming was one of two people permanently residing in the hotel.
After the fire, Fleming moved to Blairmore to live with his sister where he hopes to slowly re-build his life and personal belongings.
“Unfortunately I have a higher cost of living due to having diabetes which makes it a little more difficult,” he said.
“But people have been so supportive. Whether it’s bringing me things or just offering words of support, it’s been great.”
The Kind Edward Hotel has been in operation in Pincher Creek since 1904.
Residents said the town will not be the same without the historic site.
“The King Edward Hotel, it was like a darn western movie hotel,” said Audrey Jackson, a longtime resident of the town who is now retired.
“You came into town, you hitched up your horse, you went in, you paid for a room… They had a bar and they had a hotel in the back,” she said.
Jackson said she also remembered going to the hotel as a little girl to dine at the restaurant with her family.
Resident Lauri Goodrider said she met her husband at the bar in the hotel 23 years ago.
“It’s like a landmark that’s gone… We don’t drink or anything but just to go in there and say this is where we met. It’s no longer there anymore,” said Goodrider.
“It was built in 1904 — that’s a long time for a building and to be gone just like that.”
Residents said it will feel odd to see a big gap now where the hotel used to stand.
Pincher Creek is about 100 kilometres southwest of Lethbridge.