Fire at Lower Mainland hospital with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks believed to be arson: RCMP

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VANCOUVER -- More than a month after a fire broke out at a Lower Mainland hospital, Mounties now say they believe the blaze was set intentionally.

In a news release Tuesday, RCMP said the Nov. 15 fire at Burnaby Hospital was a "deliberate act of arson." 

The fire led to some people being forced to leave the building, and the emergency department couldn't admit patients for a period of time. Some patients were diverted to other hospitals while medical appointments and some surgeries had to be rescheduled.

That same hospital has been dealing with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks. The first outbreak was declared on Nov. 9 after evidence of transmission was found in a medicine unit. That outbreak eventually led to 62 patients and 50 staff members becoming infected and a dozen people died. 

Health officials said the evacuations because of the fire may have contributed to the spread of the disease. 

"Patients had to be moved out of their rooms and moved into common areas and had to be put in places that they normally wouldn’t be which meant our rigorous infection control precautions were loosened for the period of time that that evacuation was taking place,” Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, chief medical health officer and vice-president of population health for Fraser Health, said late last month. 

"We believe that is one of the reasons the virus was allowed to spread so widely through the hospital."

While it was declared over on Dec. 11, a second outbreak was declared this Tuesday.