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RBC firebombed as protest, group claims

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | 11:16 PM ET

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An explosive fire at a Royal Bank in Ottawa early Tuesday was a deliberate act of protest against corporate "Kanada," a video posted online claims.

The video shows the RBC branch at Bank Street and First Avenue at night. It lights up suddenly, and flames spill out the front of the building. Two people can be seen walking casually out and heading offscreen toward the left.

The screen goes dark, and a written statement scrolls up the screen as it is read aloud by a computerized voice. It states that RBC was a major sponsor of the 2010 Olympics on "stolen indigenous land."

"The Games in Vancouver are now over, but resistance continues," said the statement. "An RBC branch can be found in every corner of Kanada."

The statement, signed by "FFFC - Ottawa," also says the group will be at the G20 summit in Toronto June 26-27 and at the G8 Summit near Huntsville, Ont., June 25-26.

The video and statement were posted under the title "Direct Action in Ottawa" on the website of the Ottawa Independent Media Centre by someone named GracB on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ottawa police said the Glebe fire, which broke out at about 3:30 a.m., was being treated as suspicious.

Fire investigators were at the scene of a suspicious fire at the Royal Bank at Bank Street and First Avenue early Tuesday morning.Fire investigators were at the scene of a suspicious fire at the Royal Bank at Bank Street and First Avenue early Tuesday morning. (Chad Pawson/CBC) Police said three or four men were seen running from the bank and then driving off in an SUV just before the fire was called in.

District Chief Jim Bloom of the Ottawa fire department said the fire started in the bank's ATM area and quickly spread to the roof. It took 16 fire trucks and 35 firefighters to get the fire under control within half an hour of responding.

Damage is estimated at $300,000 and the bank will be closed for at least a week. The fire did not spread to a neighbouring restaurant.

The Ottawa police arson unit is now investigating.

Gina Masson was on her way to open Francesco's coffee shop at Bank St. and Fifth Ave. when she saw the aftermath of the blaze.

"I planned on going there this afternoon and it was gone," said Masson, who said the rash of fires in the neighbourhood is concerning.

It is the fifth major fire to strike the Glebe neighbourhood in the last six months. The other fires occurred at low-rise apartments or houses converted into residential apartments.

Other major fires recently have also been called suspicious. Police have said a fire that destroyed five dump trucks in Ottawa's west end a week ago Sunday was set.

A fire two weeks ago at two townhouse complexes under construction in the Bridlewood Park neighbourhood of Kanata was also suspicious.

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