Lethbridge man charged in downtown fire

Lethbridge, Alberta – Lethbridge Police have charged a 29-year-old man with arson in connection with a fire earlier this year that destroyed the Lethbridge Hotel.

On February 24, 2023 Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services (LFES) responded to the vacant Lethbridge Hotel located on the corner of 5 Street and 2 Avenue South. The blaze destroyed much of the building and a portion of the front façade was later demolished for the safety of the public and workers. Following investigation and remediation of material, due to asbestos contamination, LFES investigators determined the fire was man-made and suspicious in nature.

Members of the LPS Property Crimes Unit assumed the investigation. A suspect was later identified and on April 6, 2023 he was arrested without incident and charged.

Michael Big Swan, of Lethbridge, is charged with shopbreaking and commit arson. He is currently remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear in court today.

The Lethbridge Hotel site has been returned to the possession of the property owner who is responsible for any further demolition or restoration. Sidewalks and parking in the immediate area are open with the exception of a section on the north side of the hotel between 4 to 5 Street.

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services has also concluded its investigation into a fire that destroyed the historic Bow on Tong building along the 300 block of 2 Avenue South during the early morning hours January 31, 2023. As a result of the instability of the building, demolition was required to safely investigate, but due to the extensive damage a cause could not be determined.

LPS deemed the Bow on Tong fire to be suspicious and an investigation subsequently resulted in a person of interest being identified, but there was insufficient evidence to support criminal charges. The investigation has been concluded pending new evidence or information coming to light.

There is no evidence to suggest any connection between the Lethbridge Hotel and Bow on Tong fires.

As the Lethbridge Hotel matter is now before the courts and the Bow on Tong investigation could potentially be re-opened pending new evidence, no further information will be released.

Lethbridge Police Service

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