‘This is savage’: Strip club owner suspects arson in Williams Lake fire

Fire investigators look for clues into Friday’s fire at Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge that claimed the strip club and the café next door, New World Coffee and Tea House. Angie Mindus photos
One of Diamonds and Dust’s owners, Gail Boxeur said gang activity is to blame for Friday’s fire downtown. Angie Mindus photo

Fire investigators began the painstaking task of sifting through the charred rubble of two historic downtown buildings in Williams Lake Sunday afternoon looking for answers into Friday’s fire.

Williams Lake Fire Department Fire Chief Erick Peterson said representatives from the WLFD, RCMP and a few private insurance companies are going through the debris to look for cause and origin to “try to figure out what happened here Friday morning.”

Read More: Fire claims two historic buildings in downtown Williams Lake

The investigators are expected to continue their work Monday, before the scene can be cleaned up and reopened.

Peterson said at this time he has no opinion as to whether the fire is suspicious in nature, however, Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge co-owner Gail Boxeur, who was on scene Sunday afternoon, certainly does.

“It’s very suspicious,” she said.

The strip club was the scene of a shooting incident April 25 where it is alleged a suspect fired a gunshot into the ceiling. That incident was followed by two failed arson attempts May 2 and again August 15.

Read More: Staff of Diamonds and Dust, fire crews put out fire at downtown business

“There are a lot of strange things going on in this community [with] gangs. We have a hard and fast policy where we don’t allow gang members in, and you know we may be the worst enemy because of that but we try to do our best.”

In the previous arson attacks, Boxeur said the fires were put out with help from employees and customers of Oliver’s Bar and Grill across the street and their own employees and customers as well as the fire department.

On Sunday, Boxeur said she felt many emotions from the loss, which not only destroyed the strip club, but also the popular eatery New World Coffee and Tea House.

“A little lost, a lot hurt, just displaced, all of us, not only our business but the other businesses have suffered too and they continue to suffer,” said Boxeur.

“We’re just trying to pick through the pieces to see where to start to rebuild and do whatever … we’re thinking rebuild but we’ll see.”

As a result of the fire seven employees at Diamonds and Dust are out of work, and another seven next door at New World, Boxeur said. The historic buildings were lost — Boxeur’s and New World being close 90 years old, and the barber shop, was turning 100 next month.

“I feel heartbroken, heartbroken for all of them. You know because this isn’t going to be done in a week it’s going to be months and they’ll feel that all the way from New World all the way down to Mings,” Boxeur said. “This is savage … it affects everybody, emotionally, financially.”

Boxeur is thankful to the comunity for the support they’ve received, including from their neighbours across the street, Cariboo Community Church, who offered to assist them and their staff in any way they could.

As for whoever caused the fire, Boxeur believes karma will come come back to them.

“It’s just really hurtful.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ChargerQuest expands its EV charging network into Kelowna

The new stations can be found at Manteo Beach Resort and the Eldorado Hotel

Kelowna resident warns North Glenmore community of active thieves in the area

Two thieves stole a pontoon boat from a residence on May 23

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Penticton Search and Rescue airlifts injured mountain biker near Naramata

The Penticton Fire Department initially took the call and attended to the injured biker.

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Vancouver Foundation grants benefit Okanagan-Shuswap residents

Grants of up to $500 available for ideas that connect people socially or involve sharing skills

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Water quality advisory rescinded for Central Okanagan system

Turbidity levels improve enough to rescind advisory issued for Killiney Beach system May 11

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

UPDATE: Two sent to hospital following Okanagan highway accident

Drivers in head-on collision air-lifted to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries

Most Read