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Hitching Post fire survivors recovering after jumping to escape flames

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Trisha Mills and Bill Carmichael are thrilled to be reunited with their rescue dog Dexter in Kamloops – on what could be a long road to recovery.

“It’s really hard to move without inflicting some sort of pain on ourselves,” Bill Carmichael told Global News.

“But, every day we get a little bit stronger,” added Trisha Mills.

The couple is staying positive as they heal and reflect on life – after losing their dream.

The Hitching Post

The Hitching Post / Facebook

Mills and Carmichael, a millwright by trade, moved to Hedley, B.C. in June after buying the historic Hitching Post Restaurant in the small town about an hour’s drive west of Penticton on Highway 3.

The pair sold their home in Kamloops in order the purchase the heritage building that houses the restaurant.

Little more than four months later, the couple awoke to find their dream business going up in smoke.

“We were woken by the smoke detector going off and the room was already full of smoke,” recalled Carmichael.


READ MORE:
One of B.C.’s oldest restaurants burns down in overnight fire

The flames tearing through the 115-year-old building trapped Mills, Carmichael and Dexter on the second floor.

“The windows out of the dining room were blowing out sequentially coming towards us,” said Carmichael.

WATCH: One of B.C.’s oldest restaurants burns down in overnight fire






“The smoke coming out was incredibly thick.”

As the couple yelled and screamed for help, neighbours tried to rescue them but fire had completely engulfed the structure.

“I was trying to get the ladder up, but the flames were too intense,” recalled neighbour Mike Galics.

“We had to ask them to jump.”

The Hitching Post

The Hitching Post / Facebook

“We knew we had to get out and this was the only way,” recalled Mills.

Carmichael says he got Dexter out first – tossing their beloved dog from the window “like a briefcase.”

As Dexter ran off into the night, his owners made the six metre plunge to the ground below.

“People told me that I bounced off the power pole, off the railing, and landed in a ring of rocks at the base of the power pole – which shattered my bones,” Carmichael told Global News.

“I was still conscious when I saw Trisha hit the ground, and she hit quite hard.”

Neighbours dragged the couple, who were unable to walk, away from the flames to the back of a pickup truck – where they watched their livelihood burn.

“Disbelief,” said Mills.

“To watch everything we were working so hard for just disappearing in front of our eyes.”

“It was pretty hard – but glad to be alive too,” said Carmichael.

WATCH: Radium Hot Springs ‘Home of a Thousand Faces’ burns






Now confined to wheelchairs as they recover from lower body injuries including broken bones, muscle and nerve damage, the couple is back home in Kamloops.

The community of Hedley, B.C. is fundraising to help get Mills and Carmichael back on their feet – as it’s unclear if their insurance covers living expenses.

“There’s a lot of healing before we can make any long term plans,” said Carmichael.


READ MORE:
Iconic Radium Hot Springs ‘Home of a Thousand Faces’ burns down

Mills and Carmichael have talked about rebuilding the restaurant but say that depends on whether their injuries limit their mobility in the future.

“Right now it’s entirely hinging upon our physical capabilities once were once were healed,” said Carmichael.

The cause of the fire that left their restaurant in ruins is still a mystery.

The Hitching Post

The Hitching Post / Facebook

“The million dollar question everybody wants to know is what caused the fire,” said Carmichael.

Hedley Fire Department Assistant Chief Doug Nimchuk told Global News no cause has been determined yet and the investigation continues.

Dexter was found and fostered by the local community until Mills and Carmichael were able to take him back Dec. 2, after Mills’ discharge from hospital.

For now, Carmichael says the couple is just happy to be back with their beloved dog – as they work to rebuild their life.

“We’re back together so now we can figure out what we’re going to do.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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