British Columbia

Student charged after fires set at Langara College campus

A 23-year-old student has been charged with arson after a series of small fires led to an evacuation at the main campus of Langara College on Monday.

Campus evacuated Monday after police say suspect brought incendiary devices to campus and started small fires

Langara College says anyone who saw suspicious activity at the school Monday morning should call 911. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

UPDATE — April 3, 2019: Classes have resumed at the Langara College campus, with the exception of the technology building, which remains closed.

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Arson charges have been laid against a student at Langara College after a series of small fires led to an evacuation at the school's main campus on Monday.

Police were called just before noon Monday and quickly determined that a suspect had allegedly entered the college with "incendiary devices."

Two of the devices detonated, causing fires, before the suspect fled.

Metro Vancouver Transit Police arrested Nasradin Abdusamad Ali, 23, in Surrey about four hours later.

Police and fire crews swarmed the Langara College campus on West 49th Avenue in Vancouver on Monday after several small fires broke out on campus. (Denis Dossmann/CBC)

On Tuesday, Vancouver police said Ali has been charged with one count of arson in relation to inhabited property and one count of possession of incendiary material.

Const. Jason Doucette said the police bomb disposal unit detonated a third device at the scene.

"At least one of them had some sort of device attached to it as an ignition," said Doucette.

Ali made a brief court appearance in provincial court Tuesday afternoon. He entered the enclosed prisoner's box dressed in blue coveralls with a white zipper. He was advised to hire a lawyer before his bail hearing Friday morning.

Lisa Fisher, Langara's director of communications, confirmed Tuesday that Ali is a student currently registered at the school. She said he's been a student "for a couple of years," but she did not say whether he attended classes at the building in question.

Police helped firefighters evacuate Langara College. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

Fisher said most of the main campus is expected to reopen Wednesday, with the exception of the T-building.

"There's no reason for the campus community or the public to be concerned about coming back to campus," she said, adding, "students who had classes in T-building should check with their teachers for further instructions."

Fisher said remediation crews were on campus Tuesday, drying out multiple floors, as sprinklers were activated on Monday.

'Everyone was freaking out'

Students, who are in their last week of spring term, said they didn't realize the gravity of what was happening on Monday afternoon.

"We all thought it was a drill at first," said student Anna Amigut, who'd been on the third floor of the technical building when the evacuations began.

"We were annoyed obviously, then everyone was freaking out when we actually saw the whole second floor full of smoke [on our way out]."

A note on the college's website confirms police have completed a sweep of all campus buildings and have declared the college "secure,'' but classes at the West 49th Avenue campus were cancelled Tuesday and the daycare was also closed.

"The explosive disposal unit [has] gone through the school, they have located devices, examined them and destroyed them,'' said Doucette.

The college said information on how to retrieve important personal belongings left behind in Monday's evacuation would be provided on Tuesday.

No one was hurt.

With files from Meera Bains, Belle Puri, Rafferty Baker and the Canadian Press

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