Ridge Meadows RCMP and the Maple Ridge Fire Department are investigating a fire at the Salvation Army building on Thursday evening, which they say was “the result of human action.”
Maple Ridge firefighters quickly put out what was a small fire in the cavity of the wall on the main floor, on the west side of the building, said assistant chief Bryan Vinje.
He said everyone made it out of the building safely.
“Crews did a good job quickly containing the fire to the room of origin,” Vinje said.
The call came in just before 5 p.m., and numerous firefighters and Ridge Meadows RCMP were on scene at the corner of Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street.
According to a client, there was a smell of smoke, then light smoke was visible inside the building as fire alarms went off.
“Once the flames were extinguished and the scene made safe, it was determined the fire was the result of human action,” said a police press release.
Fire Chief Howard Exner explained there is a joint police/fire investigation underway, and while he confirmed there is a suspicious element to the fire, he declined to say whether it appeared to have been set deliberately or by accident, nor discuss what evidence investigators found at the scene.
The building had minor damage, and Salvation Army executive director Darrell Pilgrim said staff were able to return to their work by 9 p.m. on Thursday.
“It wasn’t a very large fire – it was smoke rather than fire,” said Pilgrim.
“Everything is running as normal and we’re back serving people like we always do.”
The Salvation Army building includes areas for meal preparation and a shelter for homeless people. Pilgrim said the fire was in a wall near the main entrance to the building, in the northeast corner.
The police investigation is in the early stages and police are requesting any witnesses who were in the area around this time to please contact them at 604-463-6251.
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or leave a TIP online at www.solvecrime.ca. Crime Stoppers may pay a reward of up to $2,000 if your information leads to an arrest and conviction.