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Lions Hall fire arrest

A suspect is in custody in connection with the fire that burned a portion of the Westbank Lions Hall last summer.

Police confirm Kerry Robert Cooper, 30, of Kelowna has been charged with arson.

The blaze, which broke out about 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept 1 of last year, consumed part of the nearly 100 year old building.

The first alarm was called in about 8:30 a.m. at which time smoke and flame were already visible.

Multiple firefighting units responded to the stubborn blaze and by 9 a.m. they had the situation under control.

Rick Hebner, past-president of the Westbank Lions, says they received news of an arrest last week.

"That's what we heard Friday. The RCMP phoned our hall manager and let us know they had made an arrest," said Hebner.

"We're pretty happy. We're glad to see it happen. Let's hope now the judicial system does its job and he gets some sort of punishment."

Hebner said his understanding is that the person arrested was picked up on other charges as well as arson.

Days after the fire, investigators concluded there was enough evidence to suggest the fire was deliberately set and the investigation was turned over to the West Kelowna RCMP.

The fire forced the hall to close and displaced other tenants including the Westside Youth Centre, Westside Storefront School, Red Cross equipment loan operation among others.

Cooper made his first court appearance Monday. He was remanded in custody until his next appearance Tuesday.

Hebner says restoration work is nearing completion.

Outside work has been complete and Hebner says he just signed off on the paperwork to start on the siding work.

He says they are still awaiting final approvals to get the interior work complete.

The Lions don't expect to be back in the hall until September.

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