Two downtown Hamilton fires started by arsonist, suspect caught

At 6:55 pm on Tuesday April 21st, the Hamilton Fire Department responded to an unknown fire at the corner of James Street North and Cannon Street. The call was quickly upgraded to a multiple alarm fire and units from across the city responded. The first incident took place at La Bichette and Grey Harbour Tattoo.

Within minutes, fire crews responded to a second fire just down the road at the corner of James Street North and Robert Street, home to Born and Raised. The call came in at 7:05 pm. According to initial reports, the fire had started outside under the covered patio and was discovered by staff who attempted to start to put the fire out.

The two active fires downtown on James Street North were located within blocks from each other and occurring simultaneously.

While crews were battling the multiple alarm fire at La Bichette, fire fighters arrived at Born and Raised and worked with Police to make sure that any staff inside were safe and accounted for. They proceeded to remove flaming objects from inside the building and dose them with water.

La Bichette and Grey Harbour, located at 161 James Street North appeared to be a total loss.

When speaking to a resident from the building, they had stated that they had thought it had started in the stair well, and they had smelt a form of accelerant.

Born and Raised, located at 224 James St North, appears to have some significant damage to the interior.

Urbanicity spoke with a police constable on scene was asked if the two were related. His response was, “I’m no detective, but I’d say yes.” It was apparent that the timing and locations of the two fires were suspicious.

The fire marshal was called in and both fires were investigated as suspicious.

La Bichette posted an update to their Instagram stating that their shop was affected, but that Grey Harbour Tattoo suffered the most severe damage.

In response, Grey Harbour has since posted their own  Instagram statement stating that not much is known at the time, but that both they and La Bichette were thankful that nobody was in their shops, and for the services that HFD and HPD provided. Born and Raised has not posted any information regarding their restaurant.

On Wednesday morning, Hamilton Police announced they arrested a 32-year-old male, of no fixed address, who faces multiple charges including three counts of arson (disregard to life), three counts of arson (damage to property), and three counts of failure to comply probation.

Thankfully, no civilians or first responders had any injuries, and there was no loss of life.

The damage caused to the businesses is believed to be valued at $100,000.

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