British Columbia

Rolf Maurer targeted twice in apparent arson attacks

A Vancouver small book publisher says he believes a business deal gone bad may be responsible for two separate arson attacks targeting him over the last three years.

New Star Books publisher says business deal gone bad may be to blame

Rolf Maurer says he awoke to the smell of smoke at 4 a.m. PT Friday and was forced to escape out his bedroom window. (CBC)

An East Vancouver book publisher says he believes a business deal gone bad may be responsible for two separate arson attacks targeting him over the last three years.

It was 4 a.m. PT Friday when Rolf Maurer heard a thump by his front door in the 5300 block of Commercial Street and woke to the smell of smoke.

"Immediately my nostrils told me something wasn't right and I opened the bedroom door and there was smoke outside so I closed it again and went out the window," he told CBC News.

Vancouver firefighters tackle the steps to Rolf Maurer's house after an apparent arson attack at the his Commercial Drive home. (CBC)

Maurer climbed out onto his roof and scrambled down a ladder a neighbour provided. Vancouver fire crews suspected arson almost immediately.

"Normally a fire doesn't start at the front of the house all by itself, said Battalion Chief Steve Chila. "Police will be investigating and our fire investigator is here."

Maurer says he thinks the fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail.

It's not the first time he's been targeted. His book publishing business in the 3400 block of Commercial Street went up in flames in 2012 in another suspected case of arson.

The suite was the publishing office for New Star Books. Maurer believes that fire, and the one Friday are part of a pattern.

Firefighters enter Rolf Maurer's house in the 5300 block of Commercial Drive early Friday morning. (CBC)

"One of our neighbours got hit a couple of years ago," he said. "Case of mistaken identity I think. They had a house that was superficially similar to ours and I think the idiots who did the attack got the wrong place."

Maurer says he's being targeted because of a business deal gone bad, but wouldn't elaborate.

Vancouver Police Const. Brian Montague says police are investigating.

"That's something we're looking into. Again its not something I can provide a lot of details on,but it does form part of our investigation."

Police say they will be talking with neighbours, looking at forensic evidence and reviewing surveillance tape.

On mobile? Click here for a map of 5300 Commercial Street