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Bowden Hotel fire deemed to be suspicious

Olds RCMP have an active arson investigation into the Jan. 1 fire which ravaged the abandoned building
MVT Bowden 4
Innisfaill firefighter/pump operator Johnathon Schneider and probationary firefighter Adam Dingman battle the final hot spots of the fire that levelled the abandoned Bowden Hotel on New Year's Day. The pioneer building was then demolished later the same day. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

BOWDEN — The Bowden Hotel fire is deemed suspicious, according to the commanding officer of Olds RCMP and he’s considering doing a Crime Stoppers re-enactment of the incident to help solve the case. 

Staff Sgt. Warren Wright talked about the case during a recent town hall meeting on crime at the Bowden Friendship Centre. 

The hotel, located at the corner of Highway 2A and 20th Avenue in Bowden, caught fire just after midnight on Jan. 1.  

Firefighters from several surrounding communities fought the fire for 15 hours in bitter cold but ultimately were unable to save it. 

The hotel was originally constructed in 1904. It initially burned down in 1925, was rebuilt and opened again in 1930, then abandoned in 2015.  

“The Bowden (Hotel) fire is deemed to be a suspicious fire and the Olds RCMP have an active arson investigation into that,” Wright said. 

“The file is active, which means that we are still locating people that we need to take statements from. 

“Now, I cannot commit to whether a strong suspect has been identified yet. However, this investigation is going to remain open until we have exhausted all investigative avenues and we have nothing left.” 

To that end, Wright said he’d like to work with Crime Stoppers to do a re-enactment of the crime and post it on TV and social media in a bid to get more information on who may be responsible for causing the blaze to occur. 

Wright said the investigation into the fire won’t end until it’s solved. 

“I’m well aware of the impact that the fire at the Bowden Hotel had on the town of Bowden and it’s incredibly important to me that we do our absolute best to solve that,” he said.  

“That file is not going to be concluded until I say it’s concluded, so we’re going to keep just trying to turn over stones and do our best to solve this.” 

Bowden Coun. Wayne Milaney said: "Good for you.”

Wright said: "But I would also like to say that we are going to need help from the public because there’s somebody out there that knows something. They haven’t identified themselves to us yet and told us what they know.” 

Wright indicated solving the crime is kind of personal to him because, having grown up in Olds, he has memories of the hotel. 

“I grew up here,” he said. “It was an institution in its day, absolutely.”