Nfld. & Labrador

String of recent fires in Grand Falls-Windsor reminds chief of 2018 arsons

The town is once again experiencing a midsummer rash of suspicious fires.

Town has had three suspicious fires in last eight days

This is all that remained after the fire at Gibson's Field Monday night. (Vince MacKenzie/Submitted)

The fire chief in Grand Falls-Windsor is concerned in the wake of a blaze Monday that marks the town's third suspicious fire in the span of eight days.

The latest razed a building at Gibson's Field, just off the town's Corduroy Brook trail system. The two other fires also damaged recreational facilities, with a ticket booth at Centennial Field and a structure at the Red Rocks Campground both hit. 

The RCMP is treating all three fires as suspicious, but say there's no evidence to link them together at this time.

"It's actually very worrisome. The potential risk, and the potential for a serious situation always exists with any kind of fire. When firefighters respond to fires, of course there's a fair amount of risk in their response," Vince MacKenzie told CBC News on Wednesday.

"The potential to spread to larger buildings or larger structures around is there as well."

An aerial view shows how Monday's fire scorched the nearby forest. (Vince MacKenzie/Submitted)

MacKenzie is concerned that any possible arsonists will move on and set fire to bigger structures, a pattern that has happened in the past. The summer of 2018 saw a rash of arsons occur in Grand Falls-Windsor.

"The fires we had last summer started off in smaller recreational facilities and we ended off with fires in commercial buildings," he said. 

Dry season

Mackenzie said he fears for his firefighters, the public and the neighbourhoods the fires are being set in, especially in the middle of a dry season where fires can quickly and easily spread to wooded areas. 

There were no arrests made in connection to the fires set during July and August of 2018, although Mackenzie said the RCMP intensely investigated them.

"We get calls to enough fires of accidental nature that we don't need any extra work, or any extra risks," he said.

The Grand Falls-Windsor Fire Department worked to put out a fire behind the Scotsburn building in August 2018. (Vince MacKenzie/Twitter )

At the moment, Mackenzie said it's too early to determine whether or not the fires from this summer are connected to each other in any way. 

"A this point for us, it's suspicious to have these types of fires in close proximity," he said.

"But I wouldn't be able to speculate as to what the motives are, or who's involved or if they're linked."

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With files from Newfoundland Morning