The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a news release that employees at the Sea to Sky Gondola noticed a cable down and saw several gondolas on the ground around 7:00 a.m. After an initial assessment of the situation by employees, the RCMP was contacted and are currently treating the incident as "criminal in nature."
"We believe the cables were cut and this was a deliberate act of vandalism," RCMP Inspector Kara Triance told CBC News. "At this time, it's a crime scene."
The gondola operator said in a statement that they received an alert at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday that a haul rope had fallen for the Sea to Sky Gondola and the lift was inoperable.
"No guests or staff were on the gondola and no injuries were sustained in the incident," Sea to Sky Gondola said.
The popular sightseeing attraction is located in Squamish, British Columbia, about 40 miles north of Vancouver. The attraction gives guests a 10-minute ride, rising to over 2,900 feet above sea level and "provides sweeping views of the Howe Sound and surrounding mountains."
Each gondola car can carry up to eight people, and feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
"The ride up and down is a thrilling adventure for all ages and provides new views of Shannon Falls and the famous Stawamus Chief climbing area," according to Sea to Sky Gondola.
On Saturday, almost all of the 30 gondola cars that were attached to the cable came crashing to the ground, staff told CBC News.
"It's just an incredibly unusual thing to happen," Kirby Brown, Sea to Sky's general manager, told CBC. "We just did our maintenance on the line very recently and it was a big, thick, beautiful healthy rope."
The RCMP said Saturday they are working with Technical Safety BC and the gondola's manufacturer, Doppelmayr, in addition to walking the gondola line so that it can be properly inspected. Authorities are also asking anyone with information or who may have been in the area at the time to contact them.
The RCMP said that they are looking to speak with hikers, climbers and campers who were in the areas of the Sea to Sky Gondola as well as the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park between 4:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Sea to Sky spokesperson Ken Bailey told CTV News between 1,500 and 3,000 guests visit the gondola each day during the summer season, and it was not known how long the attraction will be closed as authorities investigate.
"We don't know how long it's going to take us to figure out the cause," Bailey told CTV News. "Certainly it's a significant repair, but we have the best people on the planet to do that, so as soon as we can begin the repair phase, we anticipate that we'd be up and running quite quickly."