Wednesday, February 13, 2008

West Broadway explosion confirmed as arson

Vancouver Police and Vancouver Fire Department investigators have now confirmed that this morning's fire and explosion at 686 West Broadway was deliberately set.
VPD and the fire department say the fire was set inside the Taco Del Mar. An accelerant was used and there was a fuel-air explosion. Cleanup is underway, but damage is so extensive it may be some time before business owners can return.

Captain Rob Jones-Cook with Vancouver Fire says the size of the explosion doesn't automatically mean a lot of accelerant was used. Jones-Cook says different types cause different levels of damage. The relatively small size of the restaurant also may have boosted the level of visible destruction. Samples will be analyzed at a lab to see exactly what kind of accelerant was used to start the fire.
Police have not revealed any suspects or motive. Witnesses report seeing a man running from the area around the time of the blast. Investigators will probably be looking at physical evidence all day, but they do have surveillance tape that may help confirm or reject the many unconfirmed stories circulating about the explosion.
The major east-west artery was reopened to traffic just after 11 this morning, but the eastbound right-hand lane is still blocked while the investigation and clean- up continues. Earlier this morning, broken glass and debris were scattered all over the road at Broadway and Heather.

As people headed to work in the area, they described the scene as something that belongs in a warzone. The Starbucks and Taco Del Mar restaurant have been ripped apart, and damage is extensive at several neighbouring businesses.
From the sixth floor of the Holiday Inn, about half a block away, the blast actually shattered the glass of a room while a guest slept in the bed about three feet away. Remarkably, she is just shaken up but okay.

The 2:30 am blast was strong enough to shatter the front windows of the London Drugs across the street. London Drugs has since reopened as well.
One man who was two blocks away when it happened, says he was about to go to sleep when he heard a huge explosion. He says it shook the whole building, so he went out to take a look. He says it's unbelievable.

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