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Suspect arrested, released without charges, in connection to Econo Lodge fire that killed three people

Crews work on the Econo Lodge Motel Tuesday. The downtown motel was severely damaged by fire last week and three people died in the fire. Bill Phillips photo

A suspect was arrested Saturday in connection with the Econo Lodge Motel fire last week which killed three people and destroyed much of the downtown hotel.

The suspect was released without charges, pending further investigation, say police.

The fire was believed to be suspicious and the Prince George RCMP’s Serious Crime Section was brought in to lead the investigation. Assisted by Prince George Fire / Rescue, the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner, and North District RCMP, investigators now believe that the fire was deliberately set, and therefore arson.

Police are not commenting further at this time, however say they are taking all necessary steps to advance this investigation in the interest of public safety. The Prince George RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit has also opened a criminal negligence investigation after reports that the fire alarm did not sound.

Both of these investigations are continuing and are a priority for the detachment.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting a parallel fact-finding investigation to determine who died, and how, where, when and by what means they came to their unexpected deaths. Due to the privacy of the deceased, the Coroners Service will not be confirming or releasing identities.

RCMP investigators turned over the fire scene to the insurer on Sunday afternoon.

If you have any information about this investigation, please contact the Prince George RCMP at (250)561-3300 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1(800)222-8477 or online at www.pgcrimestoppers.bc.ca (English only). You do not have to reveal your identity to Crime Stoppers. If you provide information that leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward.

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