Vancouver – A fire that destroyed a Downtown Eastside street church in July and temporarily displaced dozens of SRO residents is now being investigated as an arson, and Vancouver Police are asking for help to identify the suspects.
VPD today released security video of three suspects who police believe deliberately set the fire that destroyed the street church and a neighbouring convenience store on July 6, with hopes that someone will recognize the arsonists.
“The building was completely gutted, and while nobody was injured in the fire, smoke and flames came dangerously close to the Maple Hotel, which houses dozens of vulnerable Downtown Eastside residents,” says Constable Tania Visintin.
Vancouver Police and firefighters were called around 9 p.m. on July 6 after fire broke out at 169 and 177 East Hastings Street. VPD officers worked to evacuate residents at the neighbouring Maple Hotel, while Vancouver Fire Rescue Services attacked the fire.
While the Maple Hotel was saved from serious damage, the street church and convenience store was completely destroyed.
VPD detectives worked with VFRS investigators to determine the cause of the fire, and launched a criminal investigation once it was determined that it was deliberately set. During that investigation, VPD uncovered video that appears to show three people who were present when the fire was lit in an alcove behind the street church.
“We believe each suspect was present when the fire was set, had knowledge of the arson, and had time to either put out the fire or call for help,” adds Constable Visintin. “Their failure to do so put dozens of people in danger, and we’re asking anyone who recognizes them to come forward.”
Anyone with information is asked to call VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-4477.