Kitchener woman charged after fire causes $3M in damage to Walmart

Police say $3 million in damage was done to Walmart at the Sunrise Shopping Centre in Kitchener Thursday evening. A woman has been charged. The Walmart is one of three that were targeted in a series of arsons in October 2020.

Charges include arson with disregard to human life and mischief

Police and fire crews were called to the Sunrise Shopping Centre in Kitchener Thursday night for two fires. One was in a dumpster outside and one was inside a store. (Kate Bueckert/CBC News)

A 42-year-old Kitchener woman has been charged after police say two fires were intentionally set at businesses at the Sunrise Shopping Centre on Ottawa Street S. in Kitchener Thursday evening.

Police and fire crews were called to the area Thursday at 9 p.m. for reports a garbage bin had been set on fire. While on scene, emergency crews received a call about a fire located inside another business in the same plaza. 

Members of the Kitchener Fire Department extinguished both blazes. There were no injuries.

It's estimated the damage to the store is $3 million, police said.

"Through investigation, it was determined that the fires were deliberately set, and the suspect fled the area. Police were able to locate the suspect and make an arrest," police said in a release.

The woman has been charged with arson — damage to property, arson — disregard human life, mischief over $5,000, theft under $5,000 and obstruct police.

Walmart 'shocked and very disappointed'

Walmart Canada confirmed the fire was in their store. It comes less than a year after a series of fires at Walmart stores in Waterloo region in Oct. 2020, one of which was the same store as Thursday night. Two people, a 21-year-old man and a male youth, were charged following those fires.

Felicia Fefer, manager of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada, said the store had been "completely re-stocked and repaired" after the fire in October 2020.

"The store is currently closed as we carry out the necessary clean-up and repairs. The store will reopen as soon as possible," Fefer said in an email.

"We are shocked and very disappointed. This latest incident is unacceptable and we will do everything we can to work with officials as they investigate further."

Fefer said the company "will absolutely support our associates while the store is closed" and that will include paying them for their scheduled shifts. The workers will also be offered shifts in neighbouring stores.


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