U’mista blaze may have been arson

An investigation into last week's fire at the U'mista Cultural Centre has investigators now believing that the blaze had a malicious origin.

  • Aug. 1, 2013 11:00 a.m.

ALERT BAY— The community of Alert Bay was given troubling news this week as an investigation into last week’s fire at the U’mista Cultural Centre has investigators now believing that the blaze had a malicious origin.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday, July 23, and was initially suspected to be the result of an electrical fault in a dehumidifier due to the proximity of the melted husk of the device to the source point.

After examining the scene, the fire inspector has now provided a report stating the blaze had an external source.

Now ‘Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer is appealing to the community to help find those responsible.

In a statement (printed in full on this week’s Letters, page 7,) Cranmer said he was saddened by damage done when he thought it was an electrical fault but even more saddened by the idea that the fire could have been deliberate.

He also underlined the value of the collection, made up of pieces that were  confiscated by the government during the 65-year ban on the potlatch. Kwakwaka’wakw peoples began a decades-long fight after the ban was lifted in 1951 to have the irreplaceable masks and regalia returned from museums across the world. The centre itself was constructed by the U’mista Cultural Society to house the returned items.

Thanks to the building’s sprinkler system and a quick response from local firefighters, the world-renowned collection escaped the flames, but suffered water and soot damage.

“The firefighters were on the scene very quickly,” said Cranmer. “If it wasn’t for them it would have been a lot worse.”

Cranmer explained that conservators had come up from Victoria to help restore the pieces impacted by the fire but that the damage done was extensive. The whole collection needs to be removed from the gallery and the gallery itself gutted to deal with the smoke damage caused by the blaze.

“We’d sure appreciate any help (identifying the culprits),” said Cranmer. “It’s troubling to think that this could happen again.”

Anyone with information on the fire is encouraged to contact the Alert Bay RCMP at 250-974-5544.

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

RDMW and WFP working together to mend relationship

“We have come together to try and figure out the best way to find solutions around (the issues).”

New Woss Forestry Program up and running

The Fundamentals of Forestry Program started April 16

Sayward to build waterfront trail and lookoouts

“The new amenities should attract more visitors and businesses into the area.”

Missing boater identified as Wilderness Seaplanes pilot

Chief pilot Ryan MacDonald was reported missing April 9

NIC scholarships available for Mount Waddington students

Students have a week left to apply for 415 awards

Could facial scans and fingerprints make you unhackable?

New biometrics capabilities could be a game-changer for those trying to get on your accounts

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

RCMP seek missing Vernon woman

Aislynn Hanson, 18, last seen April 13; known to travel throughout B.C. by hitchhiking

B.C. court relies on Facebook to track down missing defendant

A court in Princeton, B.C. relied on Facebook to track down a B.C. missing his court date

Cops corral pig on the loose

Police “put the grab” on pig before it can cross the highway on Vancouver Island

Accused in B.C. school stabbing found unfit to stand trial

Decision will put hold on upcoming trial for Gabriel Klein

Producer, DJ Avicii found dead at 28

Swedish-born artist Tim Bergling, was found in Muscat, Oman

Updated: Cars lined up around the block as gas hits 109.9 in B.C. city

The gas wars continue in Vernon, B.C. with prices as low as $109.9 in North Okanagan

Trudeau ends 3-country tour with global reputation, alliances intact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds footing on the world stage after China and India controversies

Most Read