The Victoria Fire Department says two fires at a rental and storage facility in the city’s Burnside neighbourhood last night appear to be suspicious in nature.
Firefighters responded to a large fire at U-Haul moving and storage facility, located at the corner of Topaz Avenue and Nanaimo Street, shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday.
Dan Atkinson, deputy chief with the Victoria Fire Department, told CHEK News that when crews arrived on scene they discovered that there were two substantial-sized fires on the property and managed to get them both under control.
“One of the fires was in a cube van which was located just off Blanchard. The other fire was in … storage facilities located in an alternate location on the property,” he said.
Atkinson said it took about 25 to 30 minutes for crews to extinguish the two fires. He said the fires were somewhat challenging because the storage facility’s compartments contained mostly plastic, which allowed the fire to burn for a longer period of time.
“Given the nature of the … storage compartments, they’re largely plastic in nature, so that fire continued to burn for some period of time,” he said, adding that the fire produced toxic black smoke.
Although no one was injured and there were no reports of suspicious activity in the area, according to Atkinson, he said the fires appear to be suspicious in nature.
“Given the nature of the fires, the geographic separation between the two fires, the time of day, all indications are that these are suspicious in nature and intentionally set,” Atkinson said.
Fire investigators were on the scene working with Victoria Police last night and again today in an effort to determine the cause of the blazes.
Earlier in the night, at around 7 p.m., firefighters responded dumpster fires in the Fernwood neighbourhood, according to Atkinson, who said they were extinguished quickly. He said its too earlier to tell whether the U-Haul fires are connected to other fires in the community of late.
Last week a 50-year-old Victoria man was arrested by VicPD in connection with three suspicious fires in James Bay last month. Atkinson said the department has noticed more suspicious fires in the city lately.
“A lot of the fires that have been reported lately are suspicious in nature,” he said.
Atkinson explained that the Victoria Fire Department has been busy for the first half of the year, particularly dealing with a “large number of significant fires that have made the news” even though their response numbers are similar to previous years.
“Our responses are roughly in line with previous years, but it seems like our incidents of significant fires is greater,” he said.
“We are definitely trending in the wrong direction.”