‘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

Maple Ridge playgrounds set to reopen June 1

Health and safety protocols remain in place

Body of Maple Ridge man recovered near Harrison Lake

21-year-old last seen on May 16 when he fell into Silver Creek

ON COOKING: Chef goes a little over the top integrating bacon

His unexpected jam recipe is garnering attention in kitchens and at fair alike

WEATHER: Temperatures to reach 21 degress in Ridge Meadows

Increasing cloudiness is forecasted early Thursday

Maple Ridge liquor store donates portion of sales to food bank

Friends In Need Food Bank will receive an infusion of cash from JAK’S in Westgate

B.C. retirement home creates innovative ‘meet-up’ unit for elderly to see family face-to-face

Innovative ‘purpose-built’ unit keeps residents safe when seeing family for first time since COVID-19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Aldergrove drive-in theatre to reopen at 50-vehicle capacity, gets green light on concession

100 cars of people will now watch films, hoping to adhere to new provincial health 50-car capacity

New oversight for COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge

Fraser Health is also sending in a germ-killing machine to fight the virus

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

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Harrison Hot Springs Resort eases in to reopening

Reservations available Friday, May 29

Police stop Lower Mainland men with parachutes from jumping off Okanagan bridge

The men had parachutes in their backpacks, and indicated they were going to jump off a bridge

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

Most Read