Fire that destroyed Snaw-Naw-As community hall considered suspicious

Fire that destroyed Snaw-Naw-As community hall considered suspicious

A fire destroyed the Snaw-Naw-As community hall on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Police say a fire that destroyed the Nanoose First Nation’s community hall is being considered suspicious.

The fire at the Nanoose Community Centre on Snaw-Naw-As First Nations territory was reported at around 4 a.m. Saturday. The blaze destroyed the building, which was unoccupied, and one vehicle that was parked adjacent to the community hall.

Lantzville Fire Rescue Crews spent most of Saturday putting out the fire. No injuries were reported and nearby homes were not damaged.

“It was pretty well advanced by the time we got there, I mean you’re looking at a building that’s very old, it’s been drying out all these years, cedar siding you know once that stuff gets going it just goes.” Acting Fire Chief John Marment said.

Nine firefighters battled the flames and saved enough of the building that housed irreplaceable artifacts.

“If it wasn’t for the Lantzville Fire Department and their quick response I think we would have lost that crucial piece of who we are so we really raise our hands to their efforts and quick response,” said Snaw-Naw-As elected councillor Chris Bob.

The artifacts are culturally significant and are thousands of years old.

“Over 10,000 years and the value in those artifacts, there is no dollar value, it just has our origin stories and where we started and who we are as a people,” added Bob.

City of Nanaimo fire investigators and Nanaimo RCMP fire scene investigators were at the building on Saturday. RCMP said investigators gathered forensic evidence and are following up on information that a number of young people were seen in the area before the fire started.

“At this time the actual cause of the fire has not been determined and it is considered suspicious in nature,” Const. Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP said in a statement.

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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