There is a new twist to the story of the log skyscraper building that went up in flames early Thursday morning.
The fire, originally blamed on police, is now thought to have been started by someone who broke into the second-floor apartment not long after the tenant, Steve Marada, was arrested.
Last Wednesday evening, RCMP arrived at Marada’s door with a search warrant.
After finding an ounce of cocaine, a quarter pound of marijuana and $1,200 in cash, they arrested Marada and took him into custody.
Around 2 a.m. Thursday, smoke was seen rising from the apartment and firefighters had to extinguish a blaze that had burned the building’s roof.
Marada originally believed the fire to be started by RCMP. When they were searching his place, they threw clothes on his baseboard heater, he said.
But an independent police investigation determined someone actually forced their way into the apartment, said RCMP Sgt. Don Rogers.
After Marada was taken into custody, someone broke into the apartment, stole property and then set the place on fire, he said.
There is no word yet on how much property was stolen or on the estimated cost of damage from the fire.
“The reason why we (brought up people from Edmonton) was to separate ourselves from that incident,” said Rogers.
Although Marada had initially blamed police for the fire, Monday he no longer thought it was their fault after hearing from Edmonton police that there was jewellery missing from his safe.
Marada had been planning to open an antique store in the first floor of the log skyscraper building and stored some of his antiques in his apartment.
Tuesday afternoon, Marada appeared in court for his sentencing.
The 40-year-old has 46 prior convictions ranging from public mischief, possession of narcotics and escaping lawful custody.
In the early ‘90s he was charged for drug trafficking.
But Marada hasn’t had any recent charges in the last five years.
“Either he’s been under the radar screen or he’s been behaving himself. Whatever the case, he’s managed to stay out of trouble for the last five years,” said Justice of the Peace Dean Cameron.
Rather then sending Marada to jail the judge allowed him to serve probation at the home of a retired schoolteacher and his wife who offered to be responsible for Marada.
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