Vancouver police confirm names of two people who died in Winters Hotel fire


“There was a fire in a social housing building, the sprinklers had not been reset, the alarms did not go off, the management inaccurately confirmed he was accounted for,” says family of victim Dennis Guay, 53.

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Vancouver police have confirmed the identities of the two people who died in a fire at the Winters Hotel last month.

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Mary Garlow, 68, and Dennis Guay, 53, were identified via DNA testing. Police say their families have been notified.

Garlow was identified as one of the victims by family shortly after the April 11 blaze, while Guay remained unaccounted for until police confirmed he was one of the victims on Wednesday.

The fire left two people dead and destroyed the building, prompting a Downtown Eastside charity to call for an investigation into the agency responsible for accounting for residents – Atira Property Management that managed the building.

Cool was described by caseworkers at Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission as a happy-go-lucky musician who “wanted to teach everyone to play the guitar.”

UGM reported him missing April 26 after he didn’t show up for a health appointment scheduled the week after the blaze. The charity is pushing for greater accountability of the agencies involved in the emergency response.

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In a statement from Guay’s cousin, Kathy Handley, she said he was born and raised in Dawson Creek – where his 93-year-old grandmother still lives.

He attended BCIT and received a Geographical Information Systems diploma.

Guay worked for the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality in Fort Nelson for a decade.

Handley said he had suffered from mental-health issues for the past decade and that the family struggled to get him help.

“We have complex and underfunded systems of health care, addiction treatment and mental health support. Navigating the limited and fragmented services is a full time job for family members and advocates,” she said.

Handley said the pair spent a lot of time together as children and when he worked in Fort Nelson.

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His parents and sister and nephews and nieces live in Victoria and were very involved in supporting him during his recent struggles.

“There was a fire in a social housing building, the sprinklers had not been reset, the alarms did not go off, the management inaccurately confirmed he was accounted for,” she said.

Garlow is among the residents who was mistakenly accounted for in the aftermath of the fire. She has been described by friends as a sweetheart who would do anything to help people.

The two bodies were found at the hotel site during demolition on April 21.

— With files from Sarah Grochowski and David Carrigg

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