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Penticton hotel fire evacuees left to find own accommodations, vacations cut short

Fairfield Marriott says they haven’t communicated with guests because systems were down
Penticton firefighters investigate the fire at the Penticton Fairfield by Marriott on July 25. (Mike Biden photo)

Some guests who were displaced by the Penticton Fairfield by Marriott fire on July 25 say the hotel left them ‘high and dry’ forcing them to book new hotels at long weekend prices or end their vacations altogether.

As of Wednesday, several guests said they hadn’t heard from the hotel and were forced to find their accommodations the evening of the fire.

“We have yet to hear from Fairfield. There has been zero communication. Security at the door gave us the general manager’s phone number but his voicemail is full,” said hotel guest Tanya Scanga on Wednesday.

“All 120 of us at 8:30 p.m. were scrambling to find accommodations during peak summer,” she added.

Several evacuees said the city’s Emergency Support Services were wonderful.

ESS opened up a reception centre for evacuees and provided food vouchers to Denny’s. That’s where a majority of the evacuees met up to find out they were in the same boat.

Scanga said one mom was staying in Penticton with her son while he was attending an Okanagan Hockey School camp and was scrambling to find a hotel.

Penticton Fairfield Marriott general manager Shawn Gill said the reason no one has been able to get ahold of him is that the sprinklers flooded the hotel causing both their phone and computer systems to go down so they couldn’t get ahold of any guests.

“We have 84 rooms so we are working to be in contact with each one of our guests now that our systems are up and running again,” said Gill on Thursday. “I was in Vancouver at a wedding at the time of the fire so I came back as quickly as I heard.”

“We didn’t charge them for the night of the fire and as the owner of the hotel, we will be paying for their night of accommodations for those who were displaced no matter where they stayed. Send me the bill and I guarantee we will pay for it,” he said. He encourages guests who haven’t heard from him to send him an email and indicate their room number.

He is also looking into further compensation in a case-by-case scenario.

“We are trying to help as much as we can. We understand this is a very difficult situation.”

READ MORE: Fire displaces 120 Penticton hotel guests

The Scangas were two days into a 16-day vacation when the fire broke out. They had booked this trip back in October 2021 on points.

They are now staying at the Lakeside Resort, which has been very accommodating, compensating their parking and giving a corporate rate because of their situation, she said.

“We are so grateful for that but we are still having to pay for rooms we didn’t expect to pay for.”

Mike Marks had to cut his family’s vacation to Penticton short and head home to Calgary. He found two nights’ stay at the Ramada but they were fully booked for the long weekend so they were forced to check out Wednesday morning.

“We had booked the Marriott in advance at the lower rate and not long weekend prices,” Marks said about the high price he paid at Ramada.

“We all needed help right away and Marriott had no emergency plan and left us to find our own accommodations,” he said. “There was no communication from them that day.”

Marks went down to the hotel to find answers the next day but said there wasn’t any information given to guests.

Gill apologizes for the lack of communication and said new staff weren’t fully aware of protocols in these kinds of emergency situations.

A fire broke out on the roof of a fourth-floor unit forcing the evacuation of hotel guests on Monday afternoon, July 25.

Two restoration crews are cleaning up the hotel but it’s unknown when they will be able to open again, said Gill.

“We are hoping to be open sometime this long weekend, maybe Monday but not to new guests, just to ones that had booked with us,” he said. All of their computers and printers were destroyed by water and will need replacing but the hotel is hoping to be up and running soon.

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The cause of the fire is still under investigation by Penticton Fire.

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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