Police and Fire join forces to combat suspicious fires


2021-06-15 13:26 PDT

File # 2021-20303

Map showing fires downtown in past 3 months  Graoh comparing fires in past 3 months from this year to 2020

In the past three months, over 20 suspicious fires have been deliberately set in downtown Nanaimo. Many were minor in nature and often involved cardboard and other flammable materials found in dumpsters being set on fire. Recently though, a fire on June 4, 2021 that started outside a business on Cliff St, caused significant damage. The fire could have spread to the interior of the business if it was not for the quick efforts of attending fire crews. The attached map shows a number of the fires that were reported and attended to, and a graph comparing fires from this year to last.

To date, our officers have identified several persons of interest who may be responsible for some of these fires. There are still many fires that remain unsolved and this is troubling, said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

To tackle this issue, Police and Fire investigators are coordinating their efforts. Fire crews, while responsible for fire suppression are in many cases first on scene. As a result, they play an integral role in the preservation and collection of forensic evidence and in identifying possible suspects and witnesses to the incident. This information is essential in order for police to move forward with their investigations.

In some cases, suspects will check out potential fire targets prior to actually setting them. Home owners and businesses should be aware of this and report this activity immediately.

Tim Doyle, Chief of Nanaimo Fire and Rescue added, the biggest concern we have is combustible materials stored outside businesses overnight. Most are added to dumpsters that are not secured. These need to be locked and the waste material disposed of or removed from the site daily.

Other fire proofing tips from Chief Doyle include:

If you have any information on who may be involved in any of these fires, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.

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