Victoria police say Plaza Hotel fire was arson, caretaker still missing
Historic, vacant building burned to the ground on May 6; search for caretaker followed
Victoria police are asking the public to keep an eye out for a man in connection with the fire that destroyed the city's historic Plaza Hotel last month.
The Major Crime Unit says its investigation is now focusing on the whereabouts of the caretaker, Mike Draeger, after forensics determined the fire at 603 Pandora Avenue on May 6 was arson.
The building had been shut down and mostly vacant for years. The caretaker couldn't be found following the fire and remains unaccounted for. There were no indications he was in the building at the time of the fire.
Crews battled the blaze from about 5:30 a.m. that day. Smoke billowing from the four-storey building blanketed Victoria's downtown core throughout the day and created a cloud visible from as far as Port Angeles, Wash., across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Victoria fire Chief Paul Bruce said Draeger was known to sometimes stay in the building.
Police are now releasing photos of him, with and without his beard, to aid their investigation.
Anyone with information about the fire or Draeger's whereabouts is asked to call the police non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654 or Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.