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Econo Lodge fire yields class action lawsuit

A class action lawsuit has been filed seeking damages for those affected by the fatal fire at the Econo Lodge motel.
Fire fighters on the scene of the fire at the Econo Lodge motel on July 8.

A class action lawsuit has been filed seeking damages for those affected by the fatal fire at the Econo Lodge motel.

With the help of two law firms, Leonard Hay filed a notice of claim Friday at the Prince George courthouse that lists the motel's owners and franchiser, two fire safety businesses and the City of Prince George as defendants.

The 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 on the morning of July 8.

He had been renting room 243 at the motel at 910 Victoria St. for $1,200 per month.

At about 8:30 a.m., Hay "heard screams from the room next door, and saw flames outside his window.

"The window exploded. He was able to exit through the outside door leading to an exterior walkway and run along that walkway to safety."

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 have launched an investigation into whether a crime was committed.

Along with the City, Prince George-based Mundi 910 Victoria Enterprises Ltd., Vancouver-based Choice Hotels are named as defendants, as are Parksville-based All Points Fire Protection Ltd. and Aztech Fire Safety Planning and Consulting (2015) Ltd.

Hay is claiming the fire was caused by negligence by the defendants and is seeking damages for loss of life, loss of personal property, loss of housing, loss of past and future employment income and pain and suffering.

The defendants have yet to file responses and the claims are yet to be tested in a court of law.

Dick Byl Law Corp. and Vancouver-based Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP are listed as the plaintiff's lawyers.

In an interview, Byl said the step is the beginning of a long process due to the complexity of the case.

"There is an ongoing police investigation, there are other court proceedings that are probably going to take place (and) with something like this, we're looking at years, not months," Byl said.

Steps include serving the notice to the defendants, receiving their responses and getting a judge to certify the notice as a class action and then signing more plaintiffs onto the action.

Byl said Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman is a class-action law firm.

He declined to comment on his confidence in the case, saying it would be inappropriate to do so given that it is before the court.