A training centre for firefighters in central Newfoundland was hit by a blaze Monday that the fire chief believes was "deliberately set."
"It is arson. There is no way to sugarcoat it," said chief Vince MacKenzie.
A school bus at the facility on New Bay Road, on the outskirts of Grand Falls-Windsor, was set ablaze in the early afternoon, triggering a response by the local fire department.
"This place is secured and there was no sources of ignition around," said MacKenzie.
The fire department was able to extinguish the flames within five minutes of its arrival — the lone benefit to responding to a fire on their own turf.
"We're very familiar with the site, so firefighters made very quick work of this once they were on site," MacKenzie said.
GFW Fire responded to our own training facilty targeted today by vandals igniting school bus extrication props. RCMP investigating. pic.twitter.com/N5zPtDH5dp— @FirechiefVince
RCMP were at the scene with a K-9 unit once the fire was knocked down and are looking for any information leading to suspects. MacKenzie says the training centre has been the target of vandalism in the last few months, despite being completely fenced in.
'This one hits home'
While the fire may not have been difficult to manage, the time of the call — during midday traffic, seven kilometres from the fire house in Grand Falls-Windsor — made for several hazards along the way.
"Lives were put at risk," MacKenzie said. "I had to do a full stop for school buses with red lights flashing to let the children pass. Those sort of things — the risk to the public — is something people don't realize when we have these nuisance types of fire."
While police are continuing to investigate, MacKenzie said there is no doubt the fire was arson.
And for the firefighters, it feels targeted.
"We respond to the public's cry for help all the time. This one hits home. This was a deliberate act on the fire department."