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Witness vehicle sought in suspected arson at Victoria Ukrainian priest’s home

Click to play video: 'Victoria police seek potential Caledonia Avenue fire witness' Victoria police seek potential Caledonia Avenue fire witness
VicPD are asking for the public's help to locate the driver of a light-coloured, four-door vehicle seen near the 1100-block of Caledonia Avenue on Wed. April 21, around 1 a.m. Security camera footage captured the car moments before it drove past the scene of a suspicious house fire – Apr 21, 2022

Victoria police have released security video in a bid to identify a possible witness to an arson that left someone seriously injured on Wednesday.

The fire broke out in a wooden heritage house next door to the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. Nicholas on Caledonia Avenue in the early hours of the morning.

Click to play video: 'Priest’s family escapes suspicious house fire in Victoria' Priest’s family escapes suspicious house fire in Victoria
Priest’s family escapes suspicious house fire in Victoria – Apr 20, 2022

Father Yuriy Vyshnevskyy, a priest at the church, told Global News he believes someone poured gasoline through the mail slot to start the fire. He, his wife and his three daughters were home at the time.

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Read more: Victoria house fire investigated as arson after gas poured through mailbox

Victoria police initially said one person suffered potentially life-threatening injuries, but that they now believe the victim’s life is not at risk.

On Thursday, police released video of a vehicle driving past the scene moments before the fire. Investigators believe the driver of the vehicle may have witnessed something.

Victoria police are seeking the driver of this vehicle who they believe may have witnessed an arson early Wednesday morning. Victoria police

The vehicle is described as being light-coloured, possibly white, with four doors.

Police say the fire is being investigated as an arson, and that they are also probing whether there was a connection between the family’s Ukrainian heritage and the crime.

Also Thursday, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its British Columbia council are calling on police in Victoria to investigate an arson fire as a hate crime.

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“Given that Father Vyshnevskyy is a dedicated community leader, who through his work is strongly supporting the Ukrainian people and their defence of their homeland from Russia’s genocidal war, we call on local authorities to investigate this attack as a hate crime,” the council said.

Vyshnevskyy said he has not received any previous threats.

Premier John Horgan offered his sympathies to Vyshnevskyy and his family during a news conference Thursday.

“We don’t know yet, as the investigation unfolds, whether it was directed at people’s faith, people’s ethnicity, we don’t know,” he said. “But, what we do know is that all British Columbians stand with the Vyshnevskyy family today, in unison, saying with one voice, we’re with you and we’re here to help.”

Anyone who witnessed the fire or has video recorded from within a two-block radius of Cook Street and Caledonia Avenue between midnight and 1:30 a.m. on April 20 is asked to contact Victoria police at 250-995-7654 (ext. 1), or Crime Stoppers if they wish to remain anonymous.

With files from the Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'One person in life-threatening condition after Victoria house fire' One person in life-threatening condition after Victoria house fire
One person in life-threatening condition after Victoria house fire – Apr 20, 2022

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