‘It’s just amping up’: Suspicious fire in downtown Nanaimo damages non-profit


The daily scenes of fire trucks rushing to overdoses, open drug use and RCMP intervening in crises’ in Nanaimo’s downtown are becoming increasingly scary triggers for those trying to keep businesses open in Nanaimo’s core.

“We are a social agency and we have sympathy for folks downtown, but it has been difficult to run a business,” said Graham Morry, executive director of the Nanaimo Association for Community Living.

Thursday night, not even the locked metal gates that have been installed to protect NACL, a Nanaimo non-profit that helps people with special needs, could stop it from serious damage caused by a suspicious fire across from its Cavan Street offices.

“It wasn’t a small fire, it went right up the pole, I got a call about 2:30 (a.m.) from the security,” said Morry.

The fire that set a power pole ablaze just before 10 p.m. Thursday is the latest in a string of suspicious fires in the downtown. The fire knocked out power to the non-profit throughout Friday and impacted hundreds of special needs clients who receive job skills and programming through NACL.

According to Morry, damage to the office’s electrical system could stretch those closures into early next week.

“The fire department was putting out the fire and the water ran down the inside of the building through the electrical room and it looks like it fried the panel,” said Morry.

Victoria Crescent barber Dave Lawrence told CHEK News he finds three to four fires on his doorstep each week and says the street disorder is becoming worse all the time.

“It’s just amping up. Every single week there’s more craziness, there’s more theft, there’s more fires. It’s surprising to me that it’s just allowed to be like that,” said Dave Lawrence, owner of That 50’s Barber Shop.

Yet unhoused Nanaimo resident Adam Morley, told CHEK News that the Cavan Street fire could have been started by people he calls “vigilantes”, who he said are trying to oust homeless from this downtown.

“I think it was them who were trying to hurt us, or make us look bad,” said Morley.

Whatever the cause, the situation in Nanaimo’s downtown appears to be increasingly volatile.

The City of Nanaimo did not respond to CHEK News’ requests for an interview, as businesses call for more support and safety patrols immediately.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!