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Fire at Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Centre being investigated as arson: police

Click to play video: 'Chinese Cultural Centre fire investigated as arson'
Chinese Cultural Centre fire investigated as arson
Vancouver Police confirm the Sunday fire that badly damaged the Chinese Cultural Centre was deliberately set, and they are now trying to identify the suspect and their motives. Catherine Urquhart reports – Mar 27, 2023

A fire that damaged Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Centre is being investigated as arson.

Surveillance footage from just before 5 p.m. Sunday shows a person behind the centre.

Minutes later, smoke and fire can be seen coming from the same spot.

Click to play video: 'Suspicious fire being investigated in Chinatown'
Suspicious fire being investigated in Chinatown

Firefighters descended on the scene within minutes, according to Vancouver Fire Rescue Services.

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Around 40 firefighters were able to use a minimal amount of water and minimize damage to the iconic building, assistant fire chief Ken Gemmill told Global News Sunday.

“It has a lot of storefronts, lots of ESL student centres,” he added.

“There doesn’t appear to be anyone injured as far as occupants because it’s not a habitable building. It’s more of a commercial kind of access building.”

The fire marked the third two-alarm fire in the area in as many days, Gemmill added.

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“They’ve got some footage and perhaps … some witnesses in the back that saw somebody lighting a fire in the back.”

One firefighter was taken to hospital after he injured his hand trying to break into the building to find the source of the smoke, he said.

Sgt. Steve Addison with the Vancouver Police Department said investigators are trying to determine if Sunday’s fire is linked to any of the attacks of vandalism targeting Chinatown or other fires in the neighbourhood.

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