Hotel owners take town to court

Owners of the Mesa Hotel that burned to the ground last year are suing the Town of Oliver.

Owners of the Mesa Hotel that burned to the ground last year are suing the Town of Oliver.

“That’s true they are trying to,” said Tom Szalay, Oliver’s municipal manager. “I can say that it’s been turned over to our insurance company and the lawyers are filing a response to it and the town is denying any of the claims.”

Mesa Hotel owners Don Kazakoff and Lisa Chalmers were fuming after Oliver volunteer firefighters collected kegs of beer from the debris of a blaze that burned down their business. The hotel/bar was destroyed in a fire on May 23, 2010 in downtown Oliver. Firefighters later admitted to taking kegs from the debris to the fire hall and drinking from at least one of them. Their actions resulted in a rotating two-week suspension for all members.

The firefighters also issued a apology letter in a local newspaper stating they felt the kegs should be taken and stored at the fire hall until security was properly established at the scene of the fire.

“Unfortunately, during a lapse in judgment, our members decided to open one of the kegs,” said the letter from the fire department.

The apology said that two kegs were actually opened but because it was handled fairly rough and just in a major fire, one did not work properly. The letter said owners were notified that beer had been consumed and financial reimbursement and an apology were given.

Kazakoff previously told the Western News that he was also upset with the decision to demolish the building, stating it “effectively erases the grandfathered, non-conforming status of the Mesa, forcing the owners to comply with the whims and wishes of town management.”

The claim filed early this month said the fire department didn’t do enough to put out the fire in a timely fashion, property owners were not allowed on the property while others were given permission to enter and remove property and the town is negligent in demolishing the hotel/bar building without a permit and due notification that prevented the owners the opportunity to salvage their belongings.

Szalay said the town has 21 days to file a response to the claim and that is what their lawyers at Fulton and Company in Kamloops are in the process of doing.