The Victoria Police Department will release new information on the Plaza Hotel arson investigation Thursday.
A virtual press conference is scheduled to take place April 30 at 1 p.m., with VicPD’s Detective Const. Andre Almeida and the Victoria Fire Department’s Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Brad Sifert.
In the early morning hours of May 6, 2019, smoke, ash and flames filled the sky as the hotel at 603 Pandora Ave. was engulfed in fire. More than 30 firefighters began battling the blaze shortly after 4:30 a.m., by 11:30 a.m. the fire was under control but crews remained on scene throughout the day and overnight to monitor the fire and douse hotspots.
|Victoria Police have released a series of security camera stills of the unaccounted for caretaker of the Plaze Hotel, Mike Draeger, in hopes that somebody will recognize him and lead police to his whereabouts. (Victoria Police)|
Michael Draeger, the hotel’s live-in caretaker, was almost immediately noted as missing from the scene.
VicPD released security footage of Draeger shortly after the fire in hopes that someone would be able to recognize him, showing him with shoulder-length hair and a full beard. Later, an image of Draeger was released showing him clean-shaven.
|Victoria Police Released a new photo of unaccounted for caretaker Mike Draeger (File contributed/VicPD)|
On June 28, the fire was deemed arson. Details of the arson have not been released, but earlier comments from Victoria Fire Department Chief Paul Bruce alluded to the possibility of a fire accelerant in the building’s basement, saying that that the fire had “either [been] burning undetected for a long time, or there was rapid fire spread.”
Prior to the May 6 fire, the building failed two fire inspections and was deemed ‘unsatisfactory’ by inspecting firefighters. Two weeks before May 6, a suspicious fire was reported in one of the exterior stairwells, but no one was charged in relation to this fire.
— With files from Nicole Crescenzi