Close up photo shows fire damage to front foyer of City Hall building.

Update – Charges laid re: Grand Forks city hall fire

Suspect is a 31-year old Grand Forks resident. He is to appear in Nelson Court on Sept. 24.

  • Sep. 19, 2013 6:00 p.m.

The Boundary Regional RCMP Detachment has released the name of the person charged in connection with the Arson Fire at Grand Forks City Hall on 2013-09-19.

Charged is;  Andre Robert CONN, 31 years old of Grand Forks B.C.

He has been remanded in Custody to appear in Nelson Court on Tuesday, September 24th to answer to charges of; Break and Enter, Arson, Possession of incendiary materials, Possession of break in Instruments.

Released by;

Staff Sergeant Jim Harrison

NCO i/c Boundary Regional Detachment

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

 

By Craig Lindsay, Grand Forks Gazette

Grand Forks City Hall was struck Thursday morning by fire. Grand Forks Fire Rescue responded to a call at approximately 5:30 a.m. and found the main floor of city hall engulfed in flames.

“When I got here, about four minutes after the initial call, fire was visible through the front door,” said Kevin McKinnon, deputy fire chief. “It was mainly contained to the front part of the building. We had our first truck on scene about two minutes after I arrived and had a crew putting water on the fire immediately. Fortunately, the fire was contained to the front lobby of the area.”

McKinnon said he does not think there was much water damage in the basement where many historical documents are kept.

“There’s a bit of water down there, but our guys were pretty sparse with their use of water,” he said. “I’ve been downstairs and it doesn’t look to my untrained eye – in terms of archival material – I’m not an expert by any stretch. It doesn’t look too bad down there. The fire did not spread there.”

City hall is closed as a result of the fire. Phone calls to city hall are being rerouted to the Public Works office. Staff members are making plans for setting up temporary operations from the Public Works office at 130 Industrial Drive.

“We are shocked by this incident and we are extremely thankful that no one was hurt,” said Grand Forks 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 are made for our customers.”

Taylor and city CAO Doug Allin were both attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities Conference in Vancouver, but have cancelled all meetings and flown back to Grand Forks.

RCMP arson investigators have been called in and are investigating the fire in consultation with Grand Forks Fire Rescue.

Members of Kootenay Boundary Regional Detachment general investigation team are also on site helping with the investigation, said Grand Forks RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison.

“We do expect things will go smoothly with the investigation,” he said. “We have every level of confidence that everything is being covered off extremely well.”

A structural engineer had to check out the building before investigators were able to enter the building.

“That has been done,” said Harrison. “The structural engineer advised us that is was safe to enter the building to carry on the investigation.”

“There was nobody in the building at the time,” he said, adding that the fire was not caused by a bomb and that there is no link to the hotel fires from 2012.

“At this point, we’re advising that we have no reason to believe that public safety is at danger,” said Harrison. “We do ask if anyone has information regarding who started the fire that they contact police at 250-442-8288 or Crimestoppers.”

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