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UPDATE: Maple Ridge businesses forced out of stores by fire

Man arrested after police say fires deliberately set in Maple Ridge
The fire started in an exterior recycling bin, and is believed to have been deliberately set. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Ridge Meadows RCMP have arrested a man they allege deliberately set fires in downtown Maple Ridge on Monday, Sept. 26, and one of those blazes has impacted local businesses.

In the early hours of the morning, police received a report that there was a suspicious fire in the 22500 block of Dewdney Trunk Road. Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue attended and extinguished the fire with no damage to the building structure.

There was, however, a lot of smoke and water damage to businesses inside the strip mall at Court House Square, as Expedia Cruises, Sector 2814 Comics and Toys, and the Create Shop are all being forced to relocate for three to six months while their stores are repaired.

Sector 2814 owner Trevor Fowell said there was smoke and water damage to his comics and collectibles, and he is still taking stock of the damage.

“There’s definitely some water damage, but I think we got lucky, relatively,” he said.

Expedia Cruises owner Louis Venter said the timing could hardly be worse for his vacations business.

“Two and a half years we’ve been closed, we just re-opened now, and then this happens,” he said.

Two other businesses were also forced to close, but may be able to re-open, without being expelled from their units for any duration.

The fire was started in a recycle bin outside of the building.

A short time later, there was a fire set in front of a nearby business, however there was no damage resulting from the second blaze, as it also was extinguished without incident.

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Several hours later, a man approached a police vehicle, where he allegedly attempted to start a fire in front of the police officer who was on scene.

The man, identified as 32-year-old Patrick James Nichols, of no fixed address, was immediately arrested.

Ridge Meadows RCMP continues to investigate other suspicious fires that occurred in the area.

Nichols is currently being remanded until Oct. 3, until his court appearance in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court.

If you were a witness to this incident or have video surveillance pertaining to suspicious fires, police are asking you to contact them at 604-463-6251.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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