fire on whistler 

Six mountain staff fired after Whistler blaze By Andy Stonehouse Six Whistler Mountain employees involved in a suspicious after-hours fire in the mountain's high alpine last week have been fired, following an internal investigation by the ski company. The six off-duty workers were nabbed near Whistler Mountain's water reservoir on the evening of July 9 after a fire consumed an empty lift shack a the bottom of T-bar 1. David Perry, vice president of marketing for Whistler/Blackcomb, said the employees were terminated for their role in a fire which could have had devastating impact on the mountain, dry as it was at the time. "The fire just destroyed the building, but with the fire hazard being quite high, we're taking this quite seriously," Perry said. "Any fire is of grave concern, and all it takes is a spark for bigger problems." Perry said the alarm was first raised about 9:15 p.m. that evening when a resident on the west side of Alta Lake called and said she had spotted smoke on the mountain. Bob Du Four, vice president of operations for the mountains, was called at home and the mountain began its fire control procedures, Perry said. At roughly the same time, a chopper belonging to Blackcomb Helicopters happened to be passing the area and came in for a closer look, landing at the site. Perry said off-duty RCMP officer Ross Genge was aboard the helicopter and helped nab the six people at the fire scene. "They went in to investigate and spotted the people around the fire, then landed and rounded them up. We've got a lot of appreciation for Ross and his quick action." Perry said Du Four and other mountain staff were soon on the scene and accompanied the six people down the mountain. The RCMP decided to leave the investigation up to Whistler/Blackcomb as an internal employee matter. Earlier this week, the six employees were interviewed by mountain management and were terminated for their actions, Perry said. He added that he was unsure if the six had been actively involved in renovation work in the area but were clearly off-duty at the time of the fire. The building destroyed by fire was a 1960s-era lift shack, dubbed "The Alamo" by mountain employees, and had recently been cleared of its electronic equipment and telephone connections. Perry said the building was scheduled to be torn down as renovations are made to move the base of the T-bar higher up the mountain.

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