Video taken by a bystander shows flames licking at an entrance to the temple as a man carries a red jerrycan to the trunk of a black van. He is then confronted by the off-duty officer.
The man managed to get away but was then arrested just before 10 a.m. in Burnaby near North Fraser Way and Marine Way, about a 20-minute drive from the location of the last of the fires, according to police.
“He did a great job in stopping and speaking to this suspect,” Visintin told reporters during a news conference, referring to the off-duty officer.
“He attempted to take the suspect into custody, a fight ensued, and the suspect was able to get away.”
North Vancouver fire crews responded to a fire near Lonsdale Avenue and 12th Street on Tuesday morning, one of three fires at Masonic lodges in the Metro Vancouver area. Police later said they had arrested a 42-year-old man in connection with the fire.
The Vancouver fire followed two other blazes that were reported earlier in the morning at Masonic lodges in North Vancouver. Police say no one was injured during the fires or the arrest and are recommending arson charges.
Investigators have released few details about the suspect or possible motives, except to say that he has a history of interactions with the police and no history of arson.
“We don’t have answers as to the motive,” North Vancouver RCMP Sgt. Peter DeVries said. “Those are questions that we want answers to as well.”