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Police say all leads exhausted in fire that destroyed B.C. heritage hotel

Victoria police say there are no more leads to pursue in an arson fire last year that destroyed an abandoned century-old hotel.

Victoria police say there are no more leads to pursue in an arson fire last year that destroyed an abandoned century-old hotel.

The fire in the five-storey Plaza Hotel started on May 6, and covered parts of Victoria in smoke, forcing the closure of city hall and other businesses.

Police spokesman Const. Cam MacIntyre said in a news release Thursday that after a lengthy and co-ordinated effort investigators have exhausted their leads.

MacIntyre said the caretaker, Mike Draeger, was sometimes known to stay in the vacant hotel and hasn't been found, leading investigators to the possibility that he may have died in the fire.

Det. Const. Andre Almeida said in a news conference that Draeger had knowledge of the building that no one else would have.

"We believe that he is the suspect," Almeida said.

The fire burned for five days, while a subsequent search of the debris took another 10 days and required the use of excavators working in a grid pattern to search for evidence.

Almeida said when fire crews arrived they saw flames on the fourth floor and a second crew spotted a fire in the basement of the building.

"They believe there was at least two fires, so that in itself is suspicious."

There was also evidence of tampering with the building's sprinkler system, which Almeida said suggested arson.

No human remains were found in the burned out ashes, but Almeida said the fire went on for a long time.

"So there may not have been any human remains to find."

Police say the files on the fire and the missing person case will remain open.

(CTV Vancouver Island)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 30, 2020.


The Canadian Press