Police have arrested three teenage girls in connection to a fire that destroyed the only grocery store in a remote First Nation community on B.C.'s northwest coast.
RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says the three girls, ages 13, 15 and 16, were arrested shortly after the fire broke out last Friday.
Investigators say a fire was set, which resulted in the Bella Bella band store being destroyed.
Moskaluk says a report has been forwarded to the Crown counsel to determine if there will be any charges.
He says the fire is still being investigated, and details about how it was set are not being released.
The blaze broke out early Friday morning, causing severe damage to the 35-year old building, which served as a vital commercial and social hub for the community.
Along with the only grocery store in the community, the building also housed the post office, liquor store, cafe and library.
The community has since created a temporary store inside a local church, and arrangements have been made with BC Ferries to ensure the island village is able to get enough food and supplies.
Marilyn Slett, chief councillor of the Heiltsuk First Nation, said the lodge at the Heiltsuk's cultural camp was destroyed by arson in December 2011.
"It's been, you know, a double blow. It's been really hard on the community," she said.
Slett says the community rallied to rebuild the lodge, but it wasn't easy.
"It's still quite expensive, living in a remote area, to get supplies here, labour here," she said.
The nearest grocery store is in Port Hardy, which is more than six hours from Bella Bella by ferry.