The RCMP has ruled out foul play in their initial investigation into a fire that gutted the top floor of Dawson City’s Eldorado Hotel on Thursday.
Although the cause of the fire is still unknown, two territorial fire inspectors were in Dawson on Friday morning conducting an investigation into the blaze at the 52-room hotel.
Police, the Dawson City Volunteer Fire Department and the Klondike Valley Fire Department responded to the call at about 12 p.m. on Thursday.
They found a large amount of smoke pouring out of the hotel’s second-floor windows.
By 4 p.m. crews were able to contain the fire.
“After considerable efforts from the firefighters and numerous community volunteers, the fire was kept under control,” according to an RCMP release.
All of the hotel’s guests and patrons in the restaurant and lounge were evacuated from the building unharmed, said Dawson City detachment commander Sgt. Dan Gaudet.
As one of the two larger hotels that stay open during the winter in the town of 2,000, the Eldorado is a popular hangout with locals.
The hotel has been a fixture in the town since the early 1970s.
The full extent of damages to the building has not yet been determined.
“It looks like the entire second floor has been mostly gutted by the fire and part of the roof has collapsed,” said Gaudet.
The fire didn’t significantly damage the ground floor, but it did sustain smoke and water damage, he added.
Centrally located at the corner of Third Avenue and Princess Street in Dawson, the afternoon blaze drew a crowd of onlookers.
Flames were licking the hotel’s roof and smoke was billowing out of its knocked-out windows as firefighters fought to control the blaze, said eye-witness Dan Sokolowski.
“It looked like the whole top floor was burning and smouldering,” Sokolowski added on Thursday.
Witnesses reported two fire trucks and one ambulance on the scene.
The fire, which raged for more about four hours, also resulted in a power outage in the community.
Two hundred customers were without power from 1:41 to 2:30 p.m., Yukon Energy Corp. spokesperson Janet Patterson said on Friday.
The Eldorado Hotel is owned by former Yukon cabinet minister Peter Jenkins, who could not be reached for comment as of press time.
In March 2006, Jenkins cut a deal with loan collectors, Dana Naye Ventures, to pay back 90 per cent of his outstanding debt of more than $300,000 to the Yukon government.
The debt included a $125,000 loan Jenkins borrowed in 1990 for the hotel, plus interest.
The Eldorado has been up for sale for several years.
Fire crews monitored the scene overnight on Thursday to control any further flare-ups.
Dawson City RCMP and the territorial fire marshal are continuing their investigation into the cause of the fire.