Police arrest trio in 2015 condo arson that caused $5M in damages

Winnipeg police have arrested three men in connection with a Waverley Street condo fire that investigators say was deliberately set, causing approximately $5 million in damages.

Investigators use DNA evidence from nearby break-in to connect Waverley fire to men, police say

The flames from the fire at this Waverley Street condominium construction project were so intense in October 2015 that many homes in the area were evacuated as a precaution. (Courtesy Jamie Peters)

Winnipeg police have arrested three men in connection with a Waverley Street condo fire they say was deliberately set two years ago, causing approximately $5 million in damages.

"The building was a complete loss," Const. Jay Murray said Thursday morning.

A lengthy investigation began after the arson on Oct. 21, 2015. Police arrested a 22-year-old Winnipeg man, a 23-year-old man from Morris and a 24-year-old from Amaranth on Wednesday.

The Waverley condominium was under construction at the time and was fully engulfed in flames by the time emergency crews arrived. Estimates at the time pegged damages at $3.5 million, a number police now say was about $1.5 million less than the true cost of the damage.

Police suspected at the time that a break-in at a separate construction site nearby on Southview Crescent on the same night was connected to the fire because alcohol and accelerants were found on site. A fire was also set at the Southview site but extinguished itself and caused minimal damage, Murray said.

Police still don't know for sure whether the accelerants were used to start the Waverley fire.

Investigators eventually definitively linked the break-in and the arson, Murray said. An investigation that included "electronic evidence" and examinations of DNA led police to arrest the three men this week.

All three were charged with breaking and entering, arson and possession of incendiary materials.

"The belief is one of the accused may have a fascination with fire," Murray said.

There are no other suspects in the case.