Vancouver police arrest 40-year-old man for arson at Emily Carr University, as campus reopens for classes

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      As a local post-secondary institution reopened in the wake of a suspicious fire, Vancouver police announced that they have made an arrest for arson.

      Officers were called to Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECU) at 520 East 1st Avenue just after 8:30 a.m. on October 5, after Vancouver Fire Rescue Services had responded to a report about a fire at the art school. There weren’t any injuries caused by the fire.

      The Vancouver Police Department announced today (October 15) that officers arrested 40-year-old Nathan MacLeod on October 11 in relation to the fire. MacLeod was taken into custody and was scheduled to appear in Vancouver provincial court today.

      He has been charged with two counts of breaking and entering and one count of arson for the fire.

      A fire shutter in one of the atriums on Level 4 sustained fire damage after closing to protect lower levels.
      Rob Maguire/ECU

      While the school was closed to students and classes were cancelled, EDU staff returned to work on October 9 and faculty returned on October 10.

      Classes were cancelled for 10 days until today (October 15) as crews worked to restore the building.

      According to an ECU statement, restoration work is challenging and time-consuming “due to complex wall structures built to support art and design education” and will continue throughout the remainder of the semester.

      After the removal of wet construction materials in the hallways of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, industrial blowers are circulating air to prevent mould from forming.
      Rob Maguire/ECU

      Unfortunately, the Research and Industry Office sustained fire damage.

      Water from sprinklers extinguished the fire but significantly damaged ceilings and walls. In fact, one-third of rooms on levels three and four suffered water damage.

      The school hired an environmental engineering company to ensure that surfaces are being dried to prevent the growth of mould.

      The university archives also sustained damage and library staff is working to recover affected items.

      Equipment located within walls was also damaged, which affected electrical and communication infrastructure, but has since been repaired.

      For health reasons, air quality was tested on October 7 (with positive results) and will be tested again this week.

      Rob Maguire/ECU

      Although the campus has reopened, several areas remain closed and will under construction for several weeks, such as the digital output centre, the design wood shop, and the library archive room (a full list is available at the ECU website.) 

      Several classes have been relocated, and the academic calendar has been extended by one week to accommodate cancelled classes.

      A list of status updates can be found at the ECU website. 

      Library staff are working to dry and separate water-damaged materials from the university archives.
      Perrin Grauer/ECU

      Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the VPD Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

      This incident is the second deliberately set fire to take place at a post-secondary institution in Vancouver in recent months.

      On April 1, Langara College evacuated its West 49th campus after fires were set in its Science and Technology building and a 23-year-old student was arrested later that day. 

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