British Columbia

Police arrest suspected arsonist behind New Westminster Pier Park fire

Massive fire engulfed historic park on Sept. 13; fire still smouldering beneath the deck surface

Massive fire engulfed historic park on Sept. 13; fire still smouldering beneath the deck surface

Firefighters battle the fire at Pier Park in New Westminster, B.C., on Sept. 13. Officials said the blaze worked its way into the creosote pilings and could burn for days. (Curtis Kreklau)

New Westminster police have arrested a man suspected of setting fire to the city's historic pier.

Police arrested the man on Tuesday, days after a fire broke out on the timber wharf section of Westminster Pier Park, the New Westminster Police Department confirmed. The fire is now contained, but continues to smoulder underneath the deck surface.

Police say the man has been released from custody on several conditions and the public is not at risk.

Charges have yet to be laid as the NWPD's Major Crime Unit continues to gather evidence. Investigators will submit a report to Crown prosecutors for consideration of formal charges.

Police arrested a suspected arsonist on Tuesday but charges have yet to be laid. ( Curtis Kreklau)

The historic site succumbed to flames late Sunday night, destroying one of the oldest parts of the long-standing pier, which had been incorporated into a new park that opened in 2012. The attraction included an urban beach where people could play volleyball, lounge in hammocks or walk the 600 metre-long boardwalk.

The Wow Westminster installation — a huge piece of public art comprising four shipping containers shaped into a "W" — was heavily damaged in the fire. 

Much of the three-acre area containing flammable creosote-soaked timbers could keep burning for weeks, according to the city's fire chief. 

Firefighters work to douse the Westminster Pier Park fire that destroyed sections of the old pier and damaged the "W" shaped Wow Westminster sculpture. Picture taken from the SkyTrain SkyBridge on Sept. 14, 2020. (Submitted by Miles Stoelwinder)

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