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Fire safety business dropped as defendant in lawsuit over fatal motel blaze

Proceeding against Aztech Fire Safety and Planning Ltd. discontinued
Prince George Fire Rescue crews battle a blaze engulfing the Econo Lodge near 15th Avenue and Victoria Street on July 8, 2020. (File photo)

A Prince George-based fire safety business is no longer a defendant in a lawsuit seeking damages for those affected by the fatal fire at the Econo Lodge motel a year ago.

A notice discontinuing the proceeding against Aztech Fire Safety and Planning Ltd. was filed June 29 at the Prince George courthouse.

Mundi 910 Victoria Enterprises Ltd., Choice Hotels Canada Inc., the City of Prince George and All Points Fire Protection Ltd. still remain defendants in the action, first filed in August 2020 by Leonard Hay with the help of two law firms.

The action, which has not yet been certified as a class action, is being brought on behalf of anyone who was a registered guest or in the adjoining Yolks All Day restaurant or simply on the site at the time of the fire, with the exception of the owners and staff.

In the claim, Hay said he suffered second-degree and third-degree burns as well as psychological injuries and all his possessions were destroyed when the fire broke out in the motel at the corner of Victoria Street and 15th Avenue on the morning of July 8.

Hay did not hear any fire alarms and did not see motel staff helping guests to safety, according to the notice. 

Three people died in the fire and RCMP launched an investigation into whether a crime was committed. No one has been charged.

In a response to the notice of claim, filed jointly by Aztech and All Points, Aztech said it has never been engaged to prepare a fire safety plan for the motel. 

Similarly, All Points said it has never been engaged to prepare a fire safety plan or design a fire protection system for the motel.

In separate responses, the other defendants also deny responsibility and oppose granting of relief.

Mundi and Choice also claim that in February and March 2020, All Points inspected the motel's fire alarm system and found it to be fully functional.

For its part, the city says it fulfilled all of its applicable duties and obligations, and "reasonably relied upon representations from the property owner’s representatives and from All Points that a fire safety plan had been prepared and that the testing of the fire alarm system had occurred."

In a response to the claim in the lawsuit, as amended in September 2020, that firefighters failed to deal with the fire correctly, the city says it "developed quickly into a dangerous conflagration" that put firefighters at risk of injury or death.

"At all  times, the firefighters of the city acted reasonably and prudently in fighting the fire," the city said.

The allegations have not been tested in court.