Experts search rubble of former Victoria hotel after suspicious fire

VICTORIA — Police and fire investigators in Victoria are sifting through the charred remains of the Plaza Hotel, which was destroyed last week by a fire that police say is considered suspicious.

Const. Matt Rutherford says in a statement that officers obtained a warrant on Monday to search the downtown Victoria property.

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He says police and fire investigators expected to remain at the scene for up to a few weeks as they try to confirm what caused the blaze.

Mike Draeger, caretaker of the long-vacant hotel, has not been seen since the fire and police said last week that he was known to stay in the building.

Clouds of choking smoke blanketed much of the downtown core at the height of the blaze, which flared up again several times, forcing the closure of Victoria City Hall and causing smoke and water damage to surrounding businesses.

Only parts of the outer walls of the old hotel remained standing after the fire was finally out.

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