Angry Vancouver fans set cars ablaze after loss

The Canadian Press ~ OBJ
Published on June 16, 2011
A Canucks fan yells and poses for a friend's camera in front of a burning car as fans riot after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final Wednesday. Photo by Postmedia News

Vancouver - Furious hockey fans set fire to cars and garbage cans, tossed beer bottles at giant TV screens and ran rampant through downtown streets Wednesday after the Vancouver Canucks lost 4-0 to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing at least two overturned cars burning in the streets, which were strewn with trash and filled with acrid smoke immediately following the game at Vancouver's Rogers Arena.

Flames were seen shooting nearly 10 metres into the air as bystanders tossed firecrackers, setting off intermittent barrages of staccato explosions. The stench of stale beer mingled with the smoke.

Patrick Fleming, 15, from Richmond, B.C., said a small group of fans took out their anger on nearby cars in the game's dying moments, flipping over two vehicles and setting one on fire.

Another upturned vehicle was visible nearby as orange flames erupted from the exploding car, prompting bystanders to duck down in alarm. Fans who were trying simply to get out of the danger zone found their visibility reduced to zero by the thick black smoke.

Som Gosh, 16, said police blocked off the area and detained a number of people, but it did little to quell the violence.

"I think it was a few people ... Everybody else is watching, some are cheering," Gosh said.

As he spoke, another fire erupted nearby in an area littered with abandoned Canucks memorabilia and hand-lettered signs expressing support for the team. Fans set fire to a stuffed bear; others sang a drunken tune as they danced on an overturned vehicle.

Some members of the crowd could be seen trying to hold others back as the rampage continued. Many - including families with children - tried to flee, panicked. Drunken revellers posed for pictures as rioting continued around them.

Most of the people in the downtown core wanted no part of the violence and headed in the opposite direction. A long line of police tried to hold the surging crowd back from the blazing cars.

Though the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt midway through the third period, a hail of beer bottles rained down on giant outdoor television screens as soon as the final buzzer sounded, touching off a fearsome riot.