Before firefighters and police arrived at the scene of an Aldergrove fire late Saturday night, April 23, some men were seen running from the scene.
That’s according to eyewitness Thomas Waite, who shot video of the early stages of the fire.
Crews were called to the El Greko restaurant in the 27200 block of Fraser Highway shortly after midnight Saturday, April 23.
Nineteen firefighters from three halls responded.
READ ALSO: VIDEO: Fire in Aldergrove restaurant ‘suspicious’
Waite, an Aldergrove resident, said he walking back from the nearby 7-11 store after leaving his girlfriend’s house, when he saw flames at the rear of the El Greko restaurant in the 27200 block of Fraser Highway, and a man running away.
“I saw him run, saying, ‘I need a phone! I need a phone!,” Waite reported.
“Three males in their 20s followed. I don’t know if they were friends, or were chasing after him.”
He said the first man appeared to be a homeless person, a Caucasian man in his 40s, who is known to sleep at the back of the restaurant.
“According to him, the restaurant proprietor allows him to sleep there, as I personally asked him in the past,” Waite recalled.
“I strongly doubt this was intentional. He considers it his home or at least his resting place.”
Waite said the amount of trash where the man camped has been growing steadily for the better part of a year, “and as unfortunate a thought [as] this is, anyone could tell this was only a matter of time. Gas tanks were visible as was drug paraphernalia.”
Waite said he called 911 to report the fire, and began to shoot video.
Waite said he was detained by police at the scene in handcuffs.
“Their reason for detaining me?” Waite told the Langley Advance Times.
“I was “too close” (there was no crime scene marked off) and I let it be known that I knew I was in my right to document their behaviour. I asked if I was being arrested and if not, I’d be leaving. Thirty minutes was wasted teaching me a lesson that could have been used taking my statement.”
“They also threw my ice cream in the garbage,” Waite added.
Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Largy said a male was “detained briefly as a person of interest at the fire.”
READ ALSO: Fire causes extensive damage to Glen Valley home in Langley
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