Smoke leads to suspect at shuttered restaurant

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

Updated: March 13, 2013, 7:10 PM

 

Smoke seeping out of a shuttered restaurant on East Fourth Plain Boulevard led authorities to a suspected metal and wiring thief Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters responded to a call of smoke blowing out a window of the closed El Rancho Viejo Mexican restaurant, 6321 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.

When they arrived on the scene at around 3 p.m., they confronted a man who allegedly had been attempting to strip metal wiring from the back corner of the building, said Drew Tracy, a battalion chief with the Vancouver Fire Department.

Officers from the Vancouver Police Department also responded to the 911 call and took the suspect into custody.

Kim Kapp, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police Department, said a man was taken into custody near the restaurant on an outstanding warrant. His name was not immediately available.

Tracy said it looked like the man had used paper as a starter to try to burn the wiring and other metal out of the building.

Occupants of a passing car saw smoke billowing out the building and called 911, Tracy said.

He said the building wasn’t damaged. The building has been empty for months.

The building has attracted attention in the past, Tracy said.

“It’s a dilapidated building,” Tracy said, “and it’s been damaged by people multiple times.”

Authorities said it’s common for thieves to break into empty buildings and strip them of wiring.

Metal wiring is easy to scrap and sell for money.