Vernon arson attacks worry residents
Massive fire destroyed 120-year-old racetrack grandstand on Wednesday night
People in Vernon, B.C., are worried about a serial arsonist who continues to set things on fire, after the grandstand at the Kin Race Track burned to the ground earlier overnight Wednesday.
More than 20 fires have been deliberately set in the past two months and that has residents like Rene Detourdonnet feeling uneasy.
"It can only get worse and it's heating this weekend to about 35 I guess," said Detourdonnet.
The massive fire which destroyed grandstand blaze lit up the night sky. By the time crews arrived there wasn't much left of the 120-year-old structure, according to Deputy Fire Chief Jack Blair.
"You could see how it just went from one side to the other very quickly. You know it's all old wood, timbers and things like the 2x4s, 2x10s and very dry. It's a shame," said Blair.
Fire officials say the fire is suspicious, but they are waiting for investigators sifting through the ashes of the burnt out structure to pinpoint the cause before calling it arson.
The grandstand is part of Canada's oldest racetrack, according to Ed Woolley with the Okanagan Equestrian Society, which owns the buildings.
"By the time I got there about 12:30 or so, there was nothing left. The fire was already out, but the grandstand was already gone."
Woolley says it's a devastating loss and it will be some time before there's horse racing again in Vernon.
Arson concerns mayor and police
Mayor Robert Sawatzky says he's never dealt with anything like this before.
"We can only hope that we have some success and perhaps some luck. This is of no benefit to the community," said Swatzky.
"As all of us who live in the Okanagan in the summertime know that fire and the spread of fire is a very real danger. We would encourage the public to help the RCMP in any way that they can."
"The more information, the more eyes that we have, the greater the likelihood that we will be able to stop this."
The RCMP also has a team of investigators investigating the arson attacks, according to spokesperson Gord Molendyk.
"It is really frustrating and we are really hoping that someone from the public either knows something and will please provide that information to us," said Molendyk.