‘I haven’t been able to sleep’: Courtenay residents on edge after rash of arsons behind homes

CHEK

For more than a month, some Courtenay residents have been living in fear over what would be set on fire next.

After a rash of arsons started lighting up their neighbourhood on Dec. 15, 2023, 10 dumpsters have been set on fire behind Fitzgerald Avenue homes since.

One fire spread to the fence of Lorena Ticas’s home.

“I haven’t been able to sleep since he started,” said Ticas.

“I have two grandchildren living with me, and they were terrified because at 2:30 in the morning, 2 o’clock, it was insane.”

According to Courtenay Fire, it’s been a frustrating situation, and there were fears it could escalate.

“I mean, yes, a lot of this fire-setting behaviour does escalate as time progresses, so that’s why you hope that you can find the individual…and get them the help they need to make the behaviour stop,” said Fire Chief Kurt MacDonald.

So, neighbour Alijah Coleman set up a home surveillance video system on the dumpsters to share with Courtenay Fire and Comox Valley RCMP to help catch the culprit.

“I’ve got a computer, I’ve got a few cameras, I might as well set it up and see if I can catch anything and low and behold, later that night, he set the first mattress on fire and just from then on, I’ve just had it running, and I’ve caught all the ones since then,” said Coleman.

Then, late Sunday night, cameras were rolling as RCMP made an arrest at the Fitzgerald Avenue dumpsters.

Officials confirmed to CHEK News one person was taken into custody in connection with the arsons.

“It’s nice now that we can all sleep at night and not have to deal with your guys’ house burning down or them coming over to another apartment or vehicle or something,” said Coleman.

“Yeah, that was a big relief, yeah,” added Ticas.

No further details on RCMP’s arrest were available Monday, but neighbours said it had brought a huge sense of relief to the community that has been living on edge.

READ ALSO: Firefighters respond to gas leak scare at Courtenay care home

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