Man arrested after allegedly setting apartment on fire in downtown Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- Police are recommending charges against a 26-year-old man who allegedly barricaded himself inside a downtown Vancouver apartment and lit the property on fire late Wednesday night.
Authorities said the blaze, which is estimated to have caused more than $500,000 in damage, forced first responders to help elderly residents and others with disabilities escape the building at Drake and Burrard streets at around 11 p.m.
Officers were called to the property after a resident on the third floor reported someone was threatening him with a chain and knife. The man managed to lock himself on his balcony for his own safety, while the suspect allegedly barricaded himself inside the apartment by pushing furniture against the door.
He then lit a mattress on fire, according to police.
Authorities evacuated all nine floors of the building with help from firefighters, who rescued the resident who was trapped on his balcony. Residents then watched the tense situation unfold from the street.
One witness told CTV News the suspect eventually walked onto the balcony and started pacing.
"He was holding a pretty big knife and these police officers were telling him to drop the knife," said Terry Murphy, who lives on the third floor as well. "There were flames shooting up behind him in the apartment. It was amazing to see, but pretty scary as well."
Firefighters were attacking the blaze, sending streams of water onto the balcony. Witnesses said the flow nearly knocked the suspect over, but that the man appeared unfazed.
The police standoff lasted hours, but the suspect was eventually taken into custody after police fired bean bag rounds at him. Some residents told CTV News they believe a Taser was used as well.
"There was beanbags, there were SWAT teams, there was probably the whole Vancouver police department there, along with about 10 fire trucks," Murphy said. "Yeah, absolutely it was terrifying to see."
The suspect was ultimately handcuffed and lowered from the balcony with a hoist.
Police said they are recommending charges of arson, forcible confinement, mischief and assault against the man, whose name has not been released.
Firefighters told CTV News the initial suite was completely destroyed, and that about four others in the building sustained smoke and water damage.
A number of residents were moved to a nearby hotel because their units were deemed unsafe, police said.