A fire tore through the roof of a historic hotel in Salmo, B.C., 180 kilometres southeast of Kelowna on Friday afternoon.
Pat Rorick was eating inside the Salmo Hotel pub with friends when a man ran in, telling them to get out.
"Out now, the building's on fire!" she recalled him yelling.
She then stood on the street watching flames shoot out of the roof of the hotel, which has stood in the same place in the community since 1896 and was largely reconstructed in 1932.
"There have been a lot of historic events there," said Salmo Mayor Diana Lockwood. "It's a huge loss. It's going to devastate a lot of people."
No injuries reported
Lockwood, who lives two houses away, said the fire broke out around 1 p.m.
She said she looked out her living room window and saw flames towering four metres above the structure. The next thing she knew, she heard fire trucks making their way to the hotel.
A fire has partially destroyed the historic Salmo Hotel in B.C.'s South Kootenay region. (Darryl Luscombe)
Lockwood was on scene at the Salmo Hotel fire on Friday afternoon and said she couldn't see any flames, but smoke was visible.
"They're examining the roof to see if there's any hot spots or anything," she said.
Authorities have not been able to determine the cause of the fire yet.
Current hotel owner John Mirko was not at the hotel when he spoke to CBC on Friday afternoon and said he doesn't know a lot about the situation other than what he's heard from employees.
It's unclear what the extent of the damage is at this time. Mirko said as far as he knows, everyone was able to get out of the building and is safe, which is what other people on the scene have also told CBC News.
Community's largest employer
Mirko said the hotel is the largest employer in the town of 1,100.
Lockwood says it's difficult to imagine the community's future without it.
"It's heart-wrenching to have something like this happen."
She said it's still too early to estimate the extent of the damage but hopes some version of the hotel can be preserved or restored.
Volunteer firefighters quickly responded to douse the flames. (Diana Lockwood)
Lockwood also praised the community's volunteer firefighting force, many of whom work out of town, for "rushing home" to respond to the flames, preventing the fire from spreading to a neighbouring pharmacy.
"We are such a lucky community to have them," she said.
The Salmo Hotel in Salmo, B.C., is the largest employer in the town of 1,100, according to its owner, John Mirko. (Ashley McKenna)