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Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Downtown Eastside church, police say

Click to play video: 'Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Downtown Eastside church, police say'
Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Downtown Eastside church, police say
Vancouver police have released security footage of three suspects wanted in connection with a Downtown Eastside arson. The Vancouver Street Church, founded in 1993, burned down on July 6. The fire is believed to have started in an alleyway – Sep 8, 2022

A fire that destroyed a Downtown Eastside church in July is now being investigated as arson, Vancouver police say.

The department also released security video of three suspects believed to have deliberately sparked the flames that levelled the Vancouver Street Church and an adjacent convenience store on July 6 on Hastings Street near Main.

Click to play video: 'VPD release video of suspects in DTES street church arson'
VPD release video of suspects in DTES street church arson

“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,” Const. Tania Visintin said in a release on Thursday.

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Read more: Church, adjacent building destroyed in downtown Vancouver fire

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The fire was believed to have been started in an alleyway behind the buildings.

Eighty residents from the nearby single-room occupancy hotel, the Maple Hotel, had to be evacuated and moved to temporary housing. Crews also managed to keep flames from spreading west into the vacant Balmoral Hotel.

Click to play video: 'Safety concerns as DTES tent city residents ordered to clear out'
Safety concerns as DTES tent city residents ordered to clear out

“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,” Visintin added.

“Their failure to do so put dozens of people in danger, and we’re asking anyone who recognizes them to come forward.”

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Anyone with information is asked to call the VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-4477.

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