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.
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.
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.
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.
“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