A former SRO building manager says normal procedures for resetting sprinklers, alarms and fire extinguishers were not followed in the three days before a 2022 fire at the Winters Hotel that killed two residents.

After a small fire on Friday, April 8, sprinklers and alarms were left off and empty fire extinguishers were not replaced.

On Monday, April 11, another fire started shortly before 11 a.m. and quickly got out of control and spread through the building. Two tenants, Mary Ann Garlow and Dennis Guay, were not able to escape and their bodies were found in the rubble of the building days later.

“Nothing was reset, nothing was done, and this wasn’t just a one-night thing, this was three: Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” the former manager said. “That could have been done and should have been done the Friday night.”

The Tyee has agreed to keep the former building manager anonymous because she fears possible career repercussions for speaking out. The Tyee has verified her former employment by reviewing her job offer letter.

For nearly two years, she worked as the manager at a government-owned single-room occupancy hotel operated by Atira Property Management Inc., the same company that operated the 107-year-old Winters Hotel located at 102 Water St. APMI is a subsidiary of Atira Women’s Resource Society, a non-profit organization that operates housing for women, transition houses and daycares.

She also frequently covered shifts at other APMI-operated buildings, including the Winters. A different fire systems company was contracted to respond to the building she was usually responsible for running than the Winters, but the former manager said

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