Hopes for keeping Dunsmuir's historic Travelers Hotel open crashed Sunday evening, when a snow-laden skylight collapsed into the central stairwell.
Hopes for keeping Dunsmuir's historic Travelers Hotel open crashed Sunday evening, when a snow-laden skylight collapsed into the central stairwell. Falling debris snapped a sprinkler pipe, which set off an alarm and flooded the lower floors. The next day, city staff told the manager that the hotel would have to be closed.
Hotel manager Julie Dew, who lives on site, said she was baking in her kitchen about 6 p.m. when she heard a loud noise.
“And a ping, like something hitting the pipes,” she said in her office Tuesday. A resident soon appeared at her door. “She told me I had a flood going on,” Dew recalled. She rushed to the stairwell. “The alarm went off. There was water, broken glass everywhere.”
She said that the Fire Department arrived “promptly, I’d say,” as well as the alarm company, who fixed the sprinkler pipe.
Fire fighters patched a gaping hole in the roof with boards and a tarp. They also helped Dew and a few of her friends and family clean up the mess. “I really appreciate the Fire Department helping us out,” she said.
The incident has convinced the city to halt efforts to salvage the Travelers. City manager Jim Lindley said staff was working with hotel management to correct inadequate conditions there. “We've commenced to do regular inspections in the historic district for about two months now,” he said in his office Tuesday. “Building and Safety and the fire inspector found some significant violations in the Travelers.”
He said that leakage over the years has created extreme fire hazard conditions by hollowing the walls, making it easier for fire to travel. He also stressed the danger from the water itself entering the building. “Mixing water and electricity is a recipe for disaster,” he declared.
Dew said the leakage from the roof into walls on the third floor has been an issue throughout the 13 years she has been manager. She said that she has had to fight to get any money for the hotel. “I can't do much without the owner pitching in,” she said. “We haven't had heat, because he won't fix the furnace, and we're about to lose hot water because we have no money for fuel.”
She said the only significant work done on the building was the facade work ordered by the city this year. “We got a new paint job, but we needed a new roof,” she lamented.
The structure failure and subsequent flooding over the weekend has prompted the city to issue a Notice to Vacate to all residents in the building. Lindley stated they will be served this day, and will have to be out by December 1st.
“This is all due to long-term lack of maintenance and deterioration,” he said. “When we Red Tag a building like this, the law allows immediate evacuation,” he said. “However, due to the disadvantaged status of the residents of the hotel, they will not have the means to relocate.” He said that 18 renters will be forced to leave, and that no one is happy about this.
“We've contacted the Red Cross. And Legal Services. The law requires the owner to pay two months rent to each renter to relocate,” he said. He added that staff has tried to contact the owner, who is traveling India with her husband and is not responding to his messages.
Dew said she feels her renters’ needs on a personal level, since she lives with them as a friend and neighbor, and stated, “I've got to find places for the people here, and it kind of touches.”