KNIGHTS INLET— The world famous Knight Inlet Lodge was destroyed in a fire early last week.
The lodge was a top ecotourism destination, with its owners, Dean and Kathy Wyatt, described as ardent champions of grizzly bear and salmon stewardship and conservation. Knights Inlet is located 80 kilometres north of Campbell River, with the lodge located 60 kilometres up the fjord, in Glendale Cove. The area is home to one of the largest concentrations of grizzly bears in B.C., with the fire coming in the peak fall viewing season, when the bears gather to feed on the salmon returning to the Glendale River.
Details are spotty due to the lodge's remote location, but early reports suggested that the fire started in the early hours of Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the lodge's kitchen and had spread to a second building before being noticed. A further report attributed to the lodge's owner stated that a staff member awoke in the night to use the bathroom, and discovered the fire when investigating why the toilet would not flush.
Staff and the 27 guests were evacuated to Campbell River's Heron Landing Hotel, where the local community rallied to help. While everyone got out safely, some of the guests left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, and many lost passports in the fire.
Local businesses and individuals donated clothes, shoes, toiletries and even cash to the guests and staff who lost belongings in the fire. Eagle Eye Adventures took guests to Bute Inlet Wednesday for a grizzly tour to take their minds off the fire.
In a statement the owners of Knight Inlet thanked those that helped out, and vowed to continue and rebuild.
"I am glad to report everyone is safe and sound and guests are going into the lodge for the day as of Wednesday," the Wyatts wrote. "It may only be day viewing but at least we can get our guests out to see the grizzlies. Everyone has been wonderful and supportive. Thank you for all the kind messages. I know that we will be back up and running in time for the start of the 2013 season. Knight Inlet Lodge may be no more but we are far from done."
The lodge was originally a floating logging camp, built up in the Queen Charlotte Islands to log spruce during the Second World War, before being converted to a fishing camp and, more recently, the ecotourism destination.
No cause for the fire has yet been established.