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A year after Victoria’s Plaza Hotel fire, investigation into arson and missing caretaker stalled

Click to play video: 'Fire destroys iconic Victoria hotel' Fire destroys iconic Victoria hotel
A huge fire has destroyed the Plaza Hotel in Victoria, costing the capital city a part of its history. Kylie Stanton reports – May 6, 2019

Police say their investigation into a May 2019 fire that gutted a historic Victoria hotel is at an impasse.

Police said Thursday that “they have exhausted all investigative avenues into the arson” which destroyed the Plaza Hotel located in the 600-block of Pandora Avenue.

Hotel caretaker Michael Draeger was reported missing following the fire, and is still unaccounted for, leading investigators to believe he may have died in the fire.

Police say Draeger has been named as a suspect in the fire.

“[Evidence] really points to an intimate knowledge of the building that someone else won’t have,” said Detective Constable Andre Almeida.

“We found evidence the sprinkler systems had been tampered with.”

The fire ripped through the five-storey building on the morning of May 6, 2019, and investigators later deemed it an arson.

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Click to play video: 'Fire destroys iconic Victoria hotel' Fire destroys iconic Victoria hotel
Fire destroys iconic Victoria hotel – May 6, 2019

There are also new details about why the fire may have been so destructive.

When fire crews arrived, they believed the blaze was coming from the top floor.

However, as more firefighters arrived they realized there were at least two separate fires, one in the building’s basement.

Draeger’s file remains an open and active investigation, but there has been no social media or bank activity linked with him, police say.

Police have renewed calls for information from the public about the fire and the whereabouts of Draeger. Anyone with information is asked to contact Victoria police at 250-995-7654. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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