Man arrested after three alleged arsons at Masonic buildings in Metro Vancouver

·2 min read

VANCOUVER — A member of a Masonic lodge says he doesn't understand why three buildings operated by Freemasons in Metro Vancouver would be targeted after fires were allegedly set at them on Tuesday morning.

"We've never heard any negative words or negative intents directed towards us," Cole Harvey said in an interview as fire crews blasted water at the smouldering North Vancouver Masonic Centre.

"I'm just absolutely shocked and quite heartbroken."

A 42-year-old man was arrested after the three fires, Vancouver police said in a statement. The suspect was picked up in the neighbouring suburb of Burnaby and police say they will recommend arson charges to Crown counsel.

"Officers were able to swiftly arrest the alleged suspect and we're thankful that no one was physically harmed," Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin said in a statement.

The first fire was reported just before 6:45 a.m. at the Lynn Valley Lodge, North Vancouver RCMP said in a statement.

A second fire, reported minutes later, severely damaged the North Vancouver Masonic Centre located four kilometres away.

A third fire at a Masonic hall in nearby Vancouver was reported at about 7:30 a.m. Fire officials said it caused little damage.

No one was inside when the fire engulfed the Masonic centre, said North Vancouver fire Chief Greg Schalk.

He described the structure as a "total loss."

"A number of parts of the building have collapsed inward as well as outward onto the sidewalk and into the back of the building."

The building dates back to the early 1900s and housed a library of old books, art and photographs, Harvey said.

"It's a stunning loss," he said.

The Society of Freemasons was founded more than 300 years ago as a trade group and continues today as a social organization operating around the world.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press