Burnaby Hospital fire, which worsened COVID-19 outbreak, under investigation as arson

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      A fire that broke out at a Lower Mainland hospital last month, which compounded a COVID-19 outbreak, has been determined to have been deliberately set and investigators are seeking witnesses.

      Burnaby RCMP stated in a news release today (December 17) that fire investigators have concluded from investigations that the structure fire at Burnaby Hospital on the evening of November 15 was “a deliberate act of arson”.

      Due to the fire, including the emergency response involving the evacuation of staff and patients, the hospital has since faced numerous challenges.

      The emergency department temporarily suspended admissions and redirected patients to other hospitals, and some medical appointments and surgeries were rescheduled.

      Because of air quality concerns, 18 patients were transferred to other hospitals.

      The fire also complicated a COVID-19 outbreak that had been declared at the hospital on November 10 after five patients tested positive in a medicine unit.

      Fraser Health stated on November 24 that after the fire, there were 55 patients and 44 staff members who tested positive (the latter were under health investigation to determine if they were linked to that outbreak or not). In addition, five people died.

      Although that outbreak was declared over on December 11, a new outbreak was declared this week at the hospital on December 15.

      Investigators are asking anyone who saw anything or anyone suspicious, or has information about the arson, to speak with police by calling a dedicated witness phone line at 604-646-9522 or by email.

      In addition, investigators released an image of a person of interest, who is not a suspect but who they are seeking to identify.

      Burnaby RCMP
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.