The BC Coroners Service has been asked to investigate the deaths of two people who died inside a Vancouver single-room occupancy (SRO) building last spring when it burned to the ground.
The bodies of Mary Garlow, 68, and Dennis Guay, 53, were found in the rubble of the Winters Hotel in Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood in the week following the April 11 fire.
The cause of the devastating blaze was ultimately attributed to candles that had been left burning, but numerous former residents of the building raised questions around whether the sprinkler system had been working and if extinguishers had been full.
The City of Vancouver has received criticism in the weeks and months since to as the safety standards in SROs and protections for more vulnerable, lower-income residents.
On Thursday (July 21), Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced he has asked the BC Coroners Service to investigate the deaths.
“Once the coroner’s investigation has gathered sufficient evidence, an inquest jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath and make findings regarding the facts of the deaths. The jury may also make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances,” he said in a statement.