Arson in Winnipeg doubled over 6-year period, report finds
Arson strike force report shows dramatic increase in set fires
Arson cases are rising drastically in Winnipeg, according to a new city report that uses six years of data.
The report shows arson cases more than doubled between 2007 and 2012 in the city.
The city’s protection and community services committee released a report from members of the arson strike force unit, a team of police and firefighters who work together on arson cases.
The 10-member unit is made up of four police officers, four firefighters and two members of the office of the fire commissioner. The team was started in 1999 as a temporary unit to investigate a string of blazes in the city. It has since become permanent.
The six-year period detailed in the report shows a dramatic rise in set fires, especially in the William Whyte neighbourhood.
Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie, whose ward includes William Whyte, says many of the blazes are fueled by abandoned furniture and other bulk waste piling up in alleys.
Eadie said the current system to pick up that waste isn't working, so officials with fire and police, as well as the solid waste department, have been tasked with developing a new plan by next week.
"They're coming up with an alternative plan to get the — we'll call it fuel — off the back lanes and sometimes on boulevards … as quick as possible, like hopefully within three days if we can," he said.
"I've suggested that they hire some trucks out — could be city workers, could be private or social enterprise, whatever it is — to monitor these hotspot back lanes and just continually, just get rid of it."
Eadie said he hopes the plan will be finished in time for the protection and community services meeting next Thursday.
The city report also showed a quarter of the blazes were set in dumpsters or recycling bins and another 22 per cent were set in garages or sheds.
The full report is available below.