Over 20 fires have been set deliberately in downtown Nanaimo in the past three months, according to RCMP.
Police said many were minor and often involved cardboard and other flammable materials found in dumpsters, but a recent fire on June 4 started outside a business on Cliff Street caused significant damage. If not for the quick efforts of fire crews, the blaze could have spread to the inside of the building, according to RCMP.
“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 Const. Gary O’Brien.
Police said they are coordinating their efforts with Nanaimo Fire Rescue, who are often the first on scene. In some cases, suspects will scope out potential fire targets prior to actually setting them. Home owners and businesses should be aware of this and report this activity immediately, RCMP said.
“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,” said Fire Chief Tim Doyle.
Doyle also recommended ensuring cardboard, pallets, used cooking oil, containers, styrofoam or packing materials are removed from outside buildings and alleys.
Anyone with information on who may be involved in any of these fires can call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.