RCMP investigating two suspicious fires at elementary schools in Duncan

RCMP investigating two suspicious fires at elementary schools in Duncan
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The exterior of Drinkwater Elementary School on Lane Road in Duncan.

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP officers are investigating two suspicious fires that occurred at local elementary schools this past week.

On January 11, RCMP say that an officer was patrolling the community and located a fire at approximately 3:30 a.m. outside of Drinkwater Elementary School on Lane Road in Duncan.

When the fire was discovered by RCMP, flames had engulfed an exterior wall and were spreading towards the roof. RCMP say that officers were able to use fire extinguishers to put out the flames and stop them from spreading. The North Cowichan Fire Department also attended the scene to ensure proper safety precautions were taken.

Four days later, on January 15, teachers were notified by a neighbour of a fire outside of École Mount Prevost on Somenos Road in Duncan. Police say they were on the scene “within minutes” and again used fire extinguishers to control the fire until the North Cowichan Fire Department arrived.

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP says that officers are collaborating with special fire investigators, local fire departments, and Cowichan Valley School District to collect more information about these two fires, being deemed suspicious.

According to police, the investigation will attempt to establish how and why these fires started and who was involved, based on the similarities in the calls and their locations outside of schools.

We are relieved that there were no injuries to students, staff, or first responders from these fires and that the fires were contained quickly, says S/Sgt. Chris Swain. Investigations like this with our partners highlight the good work that so many people do to keep the community safe.

Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District, Candace Spilsbury, says the district is very grateful for the swift response from authorities in both cases.

“The disruption to our classes at both these schools, especially during this global pandemic, has added a level of complexity to the lives of students and staff that is truly unnecessary,” Spilsbury added.

Anyone with information regarding either of these fires is being urged to contact North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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