VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Charges have been laid in connection with three fires in North Vancouver and Vancouver Tuesday.
Benjamin Kohlman made an appearance Wednesday morning at Vancouver Provincial Court. The 42-year-old is charged with arson, assault of a peace officer, and failing to stop for a peace officer.
Three separate fires broke out at Masonic halls Tuesday morning — two on the North Shore and one in East Vancouver.
Police announced an arrest had been made the same day.
The first fire started around 6:45 a.m. at the Lynn Valley Lodge near Lynn Valley Road and Harold Road in North Vancouver. The flames left extensive damage to the front of the building.
It was around 7 a.m. that North Vancouver crews received word of another fire, this time along Lonsdale Avenue near 12th Street.
That fire burned for several hours. The road remained closed into Wednesday morning as the investigation continued.
At around 7:30 a.m., crews in Vancouver received calls about a fire at the Masonic Temple near Rupert Street and East 29th Avenue.
Video surfaced on social media shortly after the fires, showing what appeared to be images of a man carrying a gas canister walking to a an parked outside the Vancouver hall. In the video, viewers can see flames near the building’s doorway before an altercation breaks out between the man and someone who appears to be a police officer.
The VPD later confirmed that an off-duty officer happened to be in the area when he spotted the man.
“He did a great job in speaking to this suspect. From that, he probably stopped anything further or anything more serious from happening, so he attempted to take the suspect in custody, a fight ensued and the suspect did get away,” Const. Tania Visintin said.
All three of the Freemasons buildings were empty at the time of the fires. It’s still unclear how much damages will cost.
Kohlman is set to next appear in court on April 6.