Bashaw rallies around family who lost everything in suspicious fire at motel they owned
DAVE LAZZARINO, EDMONTON JOURNAL 10.12.2016
A central Alberta community is still reeling from a fire that destroyed the home and business of a local family, leaving one person dead and others in hospital with serious burns.
In the absence of clear answers, the community is joining together to support them.
“I tried to (speak to him) but there’s no answer from any of them,” said Connor Wein, a close friend of Prabvir Tiwana, the youngest of two sons in the family that lived in and owned the Bashaw Motor Inn.
“They’re good, they get along with everybody, everybody liked them. They helped out whenever they could,” said Wein, who went to junior high and high school with Tiwana when the family first arrived in town about six years ago.
Fire crews were called to the motor inn early Sunday and found the building engulfed in flames. Three people who escaped the burning building were rushed to hospital. One has since been released while the other two were still being treated Tuesday. The unidentified body of one person was later found in the wreckage.
Police continued to treat the area as a crime scene Tuesday, but have released few details of their investigation. RCMP forensic teams could be seen sifting through the remains Tuesday, using heavy equipment to lift and photograph fallen walls.
An autopsy, initially slated for Tuesday afternoon, has been re-scheduled for Wednesday.
When asked if he could think of a reason for anyone to target the Tiwana family — including Prabvir, his older brother Rajvir and their parents — Wein was at a loss.
“I don’t think they’d ever do anything to harm anyone,” he said.
His father, Dale Wein, was equally stumped.
“The boys are very respectful,” Dale said, recalling times he’d heard Prabvir admonish other kids his age for using foul language in front of girls at a party. “They’re very well brought up.”
“The four of them are a very, very tight-knit family,” added Annette Wein, Connor’s mother.
“We’ve had business dealings with the dad and both the boys and they seemed as honest as the day is long,” said Marion Hartel, who works with the Weins at the Bashaw farm supplies store.
They said Prabvir is studying at the University of Lethbridge, playing for the school’s basketball team with goals of becoming a doctor while his older brother Rajvir had already finished school. In the summer, they volunteered to run a basketball camp for local youth.
Their charitable acts are now being remembered by neighbours as they scramble to help the family.
A GoFundMe page inched closer to its $10,000 goal Tuesday while the local fire department accepted donations of food and money.
“The food bank drive was already set. We do it every year for fire prevention week,” said Dorien Dejonge, a lieutenant with Bashaw Fire Department.
“Because this happened at the same time, we thought we’d try to raise some funds for the family, too, as they’ve lost everything, they’ve lost their home, their business, their belongings, they’ve lost everything that was theirs.”
“The place is their home and their business. So we knew they would have nothing to continue,” said Jackie Northey, who set up the GoFundMe page the morning after the fire.
“Businesses come and go, but in rural Alberta families are mostly entrepreneurs and they live where they work. So when we lose businesses we lose families, we lose youth and so there’s always a greater loss than if it was just a business,” Northey said. “My understanding is it will be a while for them to heal.”
The identities of the victims have not been released. The RCMP continues to investigate.
Anyone wanting to donate can do so at the GoFundMe.com/TiwanaFamily or by bringing food and cash donations to the Bashaw Fire Hall.
October 12, 2016 11:49 am
Updated: October 12, 2016 12:09 pm
RCMP say racist graffiti found at Bashaw motel destroyed by fire
By Phil HeidenreichOnline journalist Global News
WATCH ABOVE: RCMP in Bashaw continue to investigate the weekend motel fire. Graffiti found at the scene is also part of their investigation. As Kendra Slugoski explains on the Noon News, Mounties have now confirmed racial slurs were painted near the Bashaw Motor Inn.
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The RCMP said investigators discovered racist graffiti at the scene of a motel fire in Bashaw, Alta. where one person was found dead over the weekend.
On Wednesday, police said a truck near the scene of the fire and a nearby wall were also spray painted, however, they could not confirm whether the motel itself was vandalized.
Mounties said at this point, they had no information to suggest the racist graffiti was related to the fire in any way.
Watch Below: A massive police presence remained on the scene Tuesday of a weekend motel fire in Bashaw. The fire started early Sunday morning and left nothing but charred rubble behind. Quinn Ohler filed this report on Tuesday.
Emergency crews were called to the Bashaw Motor Inn at around 1 a.m. Sunday. When they arrived, the building was engulfed in flames.
A body was found in the debris and three people were taken to hospital.
A family who owned the motel lived there, along with two other men.
The town’s mayor identified the owners of the motel as the Tiwana family and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family.
RCMP said they continue to look into what caused the fire as well as a possible motive.
An autopsy is scheduled for later this week to identify the human remains and to determine a cause of death.
The Bashaw Motor Inn is located off Highway 53 near Highway 21.
Bashaw is about 136 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
-With files from Kendra Slugoski & Emily Mertz.© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc