Abbotsford Police seek answers from survivor of Rain Grill explosion

It was one year ago that an Abbotsford restaurant was destroyed by a powerful explosion and fire, causing life-threatening injuries to its director.

The Rain Grill and Bar in Abbotsford was the scene of an explosion and fire on March 21

The Rain Grill and Bar in Abbotsford was the scene of an explosion and fire on March 21

It was one year ago that an Abbotsford restaurant was destroyed by a powerful explosion and fire, causing life-threatening injuries to its director.

Chris Preston, 40, spent months in hospital recovering from serious burns suffered in the incident at the Rain Grill and Bar at 33305 South Fraser Way.

Now, police are urging him to provide information to help aid their investigation.

Const. Ian MacDonald said Preston was believed to be the lone occupant at the restaurant on March 21, 2010, when it was rocked by an explosion that sent debris along adjacent streets and blew out a storefront window across the street.

The blast took place at about 11:15 p.m., after the restaurant had closed for the night. Police who were in the vicinity arrived to find Preston outside the building, suffering from severe burns and injuries.

MacDonald said police have made “numerous” attempts, through Preston’s lawyer, to question him about the circumstances of that evening, but he has refused.

Police cannot arrest him and bring him in for questioning without “reasonable grounds,” he added. As well, police do not know where he is residing at this time.

No other witnesses or credible information have come forward.

MacDonald said concerns have been expressed from residents and business owners about the potential for another such incident to occur. Questions have also arisen about whether gangs or drugs were involved.

“How can I answer those questions, because we don’t have any answers,” MacDonald said.

He said the public has a right to know why the investigation has been stalled.

In November, police released a photo of a vehicle caught on surveillance video leaving the area of the Rain Grill and Bar just moments after the explosion.

Police believe Preston has knowledge of the 1993-99 silver or grey JMC Jimmy and who was driving.

The restaurant was the site of two arsons in November and December 2008 when it operated as L.A.X. Restaurant and Lounge. It was closed down for several months after the second fire before re-opening as the Rain Grill and Bar.

At the time of the explosion, Preston was also running a Abbotsford-based trucking company and raced stock cars, taking his first victory in 2009 after about 150 races in B.C. and Washington.

Anyone with information about the Rain Grill and Bar incident is asked to call Abbotsford Police at 604-859-5225.