‘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

District of Kent Council: Additional Notes

Further agenda items from the May 25 meeting

Police say Chilliwack driver who flipped car on overpass Sunday was impaired

Witnesses say rollover incident was preceded by vehicle and motorcycles speeding all over town

Chilliwack teachers and EAs concerned with health and safety plans

As schools get ready to open, many worry measures won’t be enough to protect students from COVID-19

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak declared over

Dr. Bonnie Henry hails work done to halt outbreak, which saw more than 130 people contract COVID-19

Camo-clad man carrying guns arrested in Chilliwack

Turns out the guns were trigger locked and the man was subsequently released by RCMP

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read