Police probe New Westminster fire that destroyed 4 businesses

Fire crews were called to a large blaze at a nightclub under construction in downtown New Westminster Monday morning. Shane MacKichan

The New Westminster Police Department’s major crime unit has taken conduct of the investigation into a devastating fire in the city’s downtown core on Monday.

Flames broke out in the building housing MagnetiQ Club Lounge, near Columbia and Church streets around 3 a.m., and it was more than 12 hours before firefighters were able to extinguish them.

Read more: Crews battle large fire in building in downtown New Westminster

The fire completely destroyed four businesses, including the beloved Heritage Grill.

“Right now we do actually believe it to be suspicious. We’re unsure what the cause is, right now. But we do believe the building was empty,” NWPD Sgt. Sanjay Kumar said.

“We understand this is really upsetting for business owners and even citizens in our community. The Heritage Grill has been a part of our community for years, so to see this building go down it’s quite sad.”

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Click to play video: 'Several businesses destroyed in early morning New Westminster fire' Several businesses destroyed in early morning New Westminster fire
Several businesses destroyed in early morning New Westminster fire – May 24, 2021

Ken Lobel owns a nearby Columbia Street business and told Global News this isn’t the first time businesses in the area have raised fire concerns.

“We’ve had to phone a number of times to have small little fires put out behind our building here,” he said.

Read more: Charges dropped against man for New Westminster pier fire, suspect is deceased: police

“If a fire started in any one of these older businesses, I would hope the fire department would not even go in, because it’s not safe. There’s so many renovations that have been done over the years that there’s all these fire channels they just couldn’t put out.”

Kumar said police were working with fire investigators to try and uncover how the fire began.

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Investigators are also appealing for any video shot between the zero block and 1000 block of Columbia Street between 2:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. on May 24.

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