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Downtown Eastside hotel arsonist gets six months in jail

Jared Adam Reiss had disconnected the fire alarm in his hotel room at 344 East Hastings St.
Jared Adam Reiss has been banned from possessing matches or any other incendiary devices.

A man who set fire to a hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 2021 has been sentenced to six months in jail less 59 days credit for time served.

Vancouver Provincial Court Judge John Milne accepted a guilty plea from Jared Adam Reiss in connection with the blaze that set off the Hazelwood Hotel’s sprinkler system and caused $15,000 in damages.

“The Downtown Eastside in the past several years has had significant issues with fires in single-resident occupancy hotels,” Milne said. “Some of those fires have caused loss of life.”

Crown prosecutor Jeffrey LaPorte told the judge Reiss had occupied a fifth-floor room at the 344 East Hastings St. hotel, which he had been asked to leave.

LaPorte said an alarm went off alerting staff that a fire alarm had been tampered with.

Staff went to Reiss’ room to ensure he was OK but he denied them entry, the court heard.

The next morning, staff saw smoke on the fifth floor and alarms sounded. Reiss was seen leaving the hotel after changing his clothes in an alcove.

Fire crews found burned and partially burned packs of matches in the hallway and the room. Firefighters also found that the fire alarm in Reiss’ room had been removed.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” LaPorte said. “The Downtown Eastside has been plagued with fires that have taken people’s lives and destroyed people’s homes.”

LaPorte asked for six months in jail less time term and 18 months’ probation.

Defence lawyer John Waddington asked for time served.

The judge gave Reiss 18 months’ probation as well as the jail time. Further, he banned him from possessing matches or any other incendiary devices.