NEWS

Arson suspected in 2 Grand Forks hotel fires

03/07/2012 11:36 EST | Updated 05/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Police have arrested one suspect after a fire destroyed a historic hotel in Grand Forks, B.C., and badly damaged another early Wednesday morning.

The 102-year-old Grand Forks Hotel was completely destroyed and part of the Winnipeg Hotel was also damaged after the fires broke out around 3 a.m. PT.

RCMP Staff Sergeant Jim Harrison says both fires in the southern B.C. town are the result of arson.

Highway 3, which runs past the charred remains of the Grand Forks Hotel, was closed and traffic re-routed for several hours as fire fighters pushed in a crumbling wall of the hotel, which stood precariously close to the highway.

Mayor Brian Taylor says the fire at the Grand Forks hotel has left a hole in his city's downtown.

"Personally I lost my favourite hotel," said Taylor. "It's part of what people saw when they first came into Grand Forks, so we certainly have lost a landmark."

Tom Lockwood, who owns Kocomo's coffee shop across the street, says travellers won't be stopping at the Grand Forks hotel for a bowl of its famous borscht anymore.

"What we are looking at is a burnt out shell, what used to be the Grand Forks Hotel. The top floor has caved in because the bricks have actually fallen to the street," said Lockwood.

No one was hurt in either fire, but 20 people living at the hotels were forced from their homes and have been put up in emergency shelters.

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