RCMP investigate suspicious fires set outside North Cowichan elementary schools

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RCMP are investigating two suspicious fires at local elementary schools in North Cowichan, which resulted in significant damage and the cancellation of classes.

Hundreds of parents scrambled for last-minute childcare Friday after an intentionally set fire lit up an exterior wall of Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary School in North Cowichan, just ahead of kids arriving for class.

The fire caused so much damage and smoke in classrooms that the school district was forced to cancel classes for the day.

“It’s really scary,” said Tanis Hildebrandt, a parent. “Because it happened at the neighbourhood school just on Monday and now it’s happening again near our school.”

Hildebrandt’s two girls attend the school, so the night shift worker jumped into supervise five kids to help fellow parents out.

“It’s super scary to think what would have happened if our kids were already at school when it started,” said Hildebrandt.

The first fire was set Monday, just blocks away from Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary. According to RCMP, at 3:30 a.m. a police officer was out on patrol when he spotted a growing fire outside the gymnasium at Drinkwater Elementary.

Despite a quick response from area firefighters, the fire damaged the school, spread smoke throughout its classrooms and forced Monday’s classes to be cancelled.

“Early this morning we had another fire at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary,” said Cowichan Valley School District spokesman Mike Russell. “Again outside the school, but did cause some significant damage on the outside of that building.”

Russell added that again, they were forced to close the school to staff and students.

RCMP are treating both fires as suspicious and officials said the two have a lot of similarities.

“Right now we know they’re suspicious fires,” said Russell. “And we’re looking forward to updates from the RCMP.”

Hildebrandt was feeling Friday that the suspicious fires might not be finished either.

“What school’s gonna be next,” said Hildebrandt. “And why would they even be targeting the schools with the innocent kids here.”

RCMP are appealing for anyone with information to come forward and credited the fast response of emergency crews for saving the damage from being much worse.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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