15 suspicious fires in Victoria and Esquimalt sparking concern

15 suspicious fires in Victoria and Esquimalt sparking concern
WatchPolice urge people to be careful after a string of suspicious fires in Victoria and Esquimalt spark fears. Tess van Straaten reports.

Fire crews doused a blaze in James Bay Monday morning after a shed on Parry Street went up in flames — one of 15 suspicious fires in the last few weeks.

The fire quickly spread to an adjacent garage — causing significant damage.

The suspicious fires in Victoria and Esquimalt are sparking concerns one or more fire bugs could be on the loose.

“It’s unknown at this time if these incidents are related or if they’re tied to a specific individual,” says Cst. Cam MacIntyre of the Victoria Police Department. “We’re taking this very seriously.”

There were six fires over Easter long weekend alone — and another nine between March 5th and April 9th.

They include lawns and hedges set on fire, cardboard boxes burning in the middle of the road, a vehicle fire in Beacon Hill Park, and numerous garbage can and dumpster blazes.

“I think we’re tremendously lucky that no one was hurt, no one has been injured in relation to any of these fires thankfully but it is a risk to public safety,” says Cst. MacIntyre.

Not only are the fires stretching emergency resources during the COVID crisis — trying to repair fire damage during a pandemic is also proving to be problematic.

“About 10 per cent of our staff aren’t coming to work because of compromised immune systems and trades also aren’t working so I think overall, we’re down about 25 to 30 per cen as far as workforce goes,” explains Tony Scott of Downs Construction, which specializes in fire and flood remediation and restoration. “We’re managing, but it slows everything down quite a bit.”

With restoration companies facing staffing shortages, long line-ups to get building supplies, and delays in getting permits, the 86 people displaced by a Campbell River apartment fire can expect repairs to take longer than usual.

Emergency supports are now being extended until April 22.

As for the suspected arsons in Victoria, police are asking for anyone with information to call the non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654 or Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Since several started in bins, police are urging people to secure garbage cans, dumpsters and anything that could be a potential target for an arsonist.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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