Structure fire in Parksville deemed suspicious

Structure fire in Parksville deemed suspicious
Photo: Colin Ready-Evoy
Fire crews battle blaze in Parksville on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

The Parksville Fire Department is launching an investigation to determine what caused a structure fire that badly damaged a building in the city’s downtown Thursday morning.

Parksville fire chief Marc Norris says crews got the call around 6 a.m. for a fire at 141 Memorial Ave., a commercial building that houses several tenants and was unoccupied at the time.

“There is significant damage to both floors throughout the entire building. We’re just in the overhaul phase now,” Norris said in a 9:30 a.m. interview with CHEK News. 

“At this point, it may be a suspicious fire,” he said, noting crews have yet to determine if the fire was intentionally set, or if it started on the interior or exterior of the building.

“We’re just not sure at this time,” Norris said. “Hopefully the investigation will lead us in the right direction and we can determine what the cause was. If it turns out that it’s suspicious, the RCMP will investigate it further.”

Several posts on social media show a large cloud of smoke spewing from the site as fire crews battled the flames from the ground and using a ladder.

According to Norris, Errington and Qualicum Beach fire crews were called in to help put out the flames. He says 35 or so firefighters and five apparatus were on scene.

The fire chief says the smoke also made its way into the neighbouring building, forcing Oceanside Animal Hospital to close its doors today.

“There is an animal hospital next door. There was a small amount of smoke in there. There are no animals in the animal hospital at the moment,” he said.

“And so we did check that building and looked at it with the owners and it’s locked up now and everything seems to be good.”

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Norris says a passerby out for his morning walk was first to call 911 and report the fire after spotting flames ravaging the back of the building.

“(He) thought it was odd that there was some smoke in the air and just was walking along the highway and decided to walk up and check, and there was a fire at the rear of the building, so he reported it,” he added.

Paramedics also responded, though Norris says no injuries were reported.

In an update, Oceanside RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Shane Worth says police believe the fire was deliberately set. He’s now asking anyone with information to come forward.

If anyone has any information about this fire or has dash cam or video surveillance from the area around 6:00 a.m. this morning, investigators would like to speak with you, said Worth.

Fire crews and police are still working in the area and the public is asked to respect the temporary closures and barriers that are currently in place.

Oceanside RCMP can be reached at 250-947-6537.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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