Victoria, BC – VicPD’s Major Crime Unit Detectives are announcing that they have exhausted all investigative avenues into the Plaza Hotel fire. This file will remain open, however, after a lengthy and coordinated effort there are currently no new leads to pursue.
At approximately 5:30 a.m. on May 6th, 2019, Patrol officers received a report that the Victoria Fire Department (VFD) was battling a structure fire in the 600-block of Pandora Avenue. Officers attended the scene and provided traffic control to ensure that pedestrian and vehicle traffic remained safe in the area.
The building that was on fire was formerly known as the Century Plaza Hotel, located at 603 Pandora Avenue. The fire fully engulfed the five-story building and continued for several days. The majority of the structure was destroyed. VFD used an excavator to knock down the remaining walls and structure of the building to prevent a subsequent collapse and further risk to public safety.
On May 13th, 2019, detectives with VicPD’s Major Crime Unit took control of the scene from VFD. VFD advised VicPD that the fire was suspicious. VicPD detectives executed a search warrant on the building site once the fire was under control and the scene was safe. The search took approximately 10 days to complete and required the use of excavators working in a grid pattern to search for evidence. Detectives determined that this fire was an arson.
The building was known to be unoccupied, except for the lone occupant, caretaker, Mr. Michael Draeger. Despite an exhaustive search, Mr. Draeger has never been found, leading investigators to the possibility that he may have perished in the fire. The file will remain classified as an arson. The missing person file associated to Mr. Draeger will remain an open and active investigation.
To date, this has required an extraordinary amount of time and attention, and collaboration across agencies. VicPD would like to thank our partners at the Victoria Fire Department and the City of Victoria. We would also like to thank Ralmax Group of Companies, who provided construction crews to operate the heavy machinery needed for this extensive investigation. Finally, we would like to thank our community members. This investigation was lengthy and inconvenienced day-to-day life for many in the downtown core. Thank you for your patience and understanding as this investigation took place.
Detectives will continue to pursue any new leads. If you have information about the Plaza Hotel fire, or any information on the disappearance or whereabouts of Mr. Draeger, you are asked to call our non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654. Press #1 to speak with the report desk. To report what you know anonymously, please call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.