Arson in Grand Forks

2 p.m. update: The Grand Forks RCMP are investigating an early morning structure fire at the Grand Forks City Hall building. The fire is deemed suspicious in nature.

RCMP arson investigators are en-route to the scene. 

The Grand Forks RCMP took an adult male in custody, shortly after arriving at the fire. Investigators with the Kootenay Boundary Regional General Investigation Sec. will be speaking with the man to further determine his involvement in the incident.

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Thursday September 18, 2013, the Grand Forks RCMP and Grand Forks Fire Dept responded to a fire and panic alarm at the City Hall building. The fire department was able to extinguish the blaze which caused significant damage to the first floor.

No injuries were reported as result of the fire.

“We are shocked by this incident and we are extremely thankful that no one was hurt,” says Mayor Brian Taylor. “We are awaiting further information as the proper authorities complete their investigation. In the meantime we are making arrangements to ensure our staff are briefed and alternate arrangements made for our customers.”

Phone calls to City Hall are being rerouted to the Public Works office. Staff are making plans for setting up temporary operations from the Public Works office.

A structural engineer has been called in to assess the damage to the building before investigators can conduct their investigation of the building.

Mayor Brian Taylor and Chief Administrative Officer Doug Allin have cancelled their meetings at the Union of BC Municipalities conference they were attending in Vancouver and are enroute to Grand Forks. They are due to be back in Grand Forks later this afternoon.

A news conference is scheduled for 4:30 today, in front of City Hall, located at 7217 Fourth Street, Grand Forks, BC.

“We will provide further details to staff and residents as they become available,” says Mayor Taylor. “We are also working closely with the RCMP to provide any access or information that may assist in their investigation. If any members of our community have any information regarding this incident, we ask they that please contact the local RCMP detachment.”

For the second time in 18 months fire has damaged a century old building in Grand Forks.

According to assistant fire chief Kevin McKinnon, fire crews in the tiny Boundary community were called to City Hall about 5:30 Thursday morning for a fire inside the building.

Despite rumours running rampant throughout the town and on social media, McKinnon says the inside of the building has not been gutted.

He says it did suffer significant damage which was contained to the front entrance area of the 101 year old building.

"Crews were able to get to the fire quickly and contain it to the front of the building," says McKinnon.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is just getting underway.

MCKinnon says an outside investigator has been called in to assist with the investigation.

He adds that rumours of a 'fire bomb' did not start with the fire department.

The old brick building was built in 1911 and was the original community post office.

It became city hall in 1981.

McKinnon believes the inside of the building can be salvaged and re-occupied.

In March of last year the 110-year-old Grand Forks Hotel burned to the ground at the hands of an arsonist.

CBC is reporting that one person is in custody.

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