Whitehorse Daily Star

Fire razes another historic building in Atlin

Another historic building has been destroyed by a fire in Atlin.

By T.S. Giilck on September 14, 2023

Another historic building has been destroyed by a fire in Atlin.

While little is known of the structure’s history, residents say it’s believed to be a relic of the 1898 gold rush in the remote British Columbia community just south of the Yukon.

It apparently was once used as a hotel in that time period.

Dorothy Odian told the Star today she was having coffee at the nearby Atlin Mountain Inn on Tuesday afternoon when she heard sirens approaching.

The inn is about a block or two away from the building, located toward the south end of Atlin, which is believed to have been used as a hotel during the gold rush period and for a time afterward.

Odian said the building was enveloped in flames within minutes and razed to the ground in approximately 45 minutes.

“The flames were pretty high,” she said. “The fire department did a wonderful job of keeping the other buildings nearby safe.”

Her own home isn’t located far from the site of the blaze.

She said she and her husband had done some work on the building in the 1970s to help preserve it, and it was in very poor shape then.

Odian said she moved to Atlin in the early 1960s and the building was crumbling and largely abandoned at that time.

She said she wasn’t sure whether the current location was its original location.

It’s possible it was moved from Discovery, a ghost town some distance outside of Atlin now that was the site of a temporary town during the gold rush.

Many of the historic buildings in Atlin were originally located in Discovery and have been since brought into Atlin.

Odian said the building had been recently purchased, but she wasn’t sure of the identity of the new owner.

Sharon and Stephen Lancaster are part of the family that owns the Atlin Mountain Inn.

They said they didn’t see a lot of the fire, but have been on the end of some confusion since the incident.

“We just saw some smoke,” they told the Star today.

Since then, staff at the Inn have been fielding some calls from people who mistakenly think the Mountain Inn burned. They’ve been working on reassuring people that isn’t the case.

Stephen said he had been told that someone working on the building with a chain saw inadvertently started the blaze, but that has been confirmed yet.

An RCMP officer said the fire was still under investigation this morning.

The officer said the first calls about the fire came in at approximately 3:50 pm. Tuesday, and the structure was destroyed within an hour.

There has been a number of fires in the unincorporated community of about 500 people in the last year or so.

That included a blaze that destroyed the general store and post office building last year at about this time.

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