The drone of high-powered fans and a tangle of hoses fill the gym at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) Monday morning. The state-of-the-art facility remains closed after being targeted by an arsonist early Sunday morning.
“It was an individual who vandalized and torched, had a blowtorch, to create some fires,” said PISE CEO Robert Bettauer.
The reception area was heavily damaged by flames and a section of the counter has since been removed. The building was the first of several targeted on the Camosun Interurban campus during a half hour crime spree.
“Things like breaking windows, smashing a bit of equipment, things of that sort,” said Camosun’s Vice-President of Student Experience Joan Yates.
The Centre for Business and Access is also closed and a sheet of plywood covers a window of the Centre for Trades Education and Innovation — both were also vandalized and set on fire.
“We ended up having our sprinkler system work incredibly effectively but as a result, we have a bit of water damage and clean up that’s required,” said Yates.
There are also air quality concerns from the smoke. The closure of the three buildings impacts about 1500 to 2000 students who happen to be preparing for exams.
“So we end classes next week so this is a pretty important time for students and we’re very anxious as we know they are to get them back into the classroom,” said Yates.
But that won’t happen until Wednesday at the earliest.
The good news is nobody was hurt and PISE says it’s had an outpouring of community support, from places like UVic, Bear Mountain, and Saanich, offering up their training facilities to PISE members.
The suspect was taken into custody at the scene Sunday morning and Saanich Police say he has no apparent connection to the college.
Thirty-year-old Aaron Raschke is now charged with 11 counts including break and enter, theft, mischief and five counts of arson. Raschke is known to police and remains in custody. His next court appearance is November 27 at 9 a.m.