Two dumpster fires in Victoria Thursday thought linked to recent arsons

A dumpster fire Thursday has Saanich police believing it may be linked to a series of fires that included the arson of ABC restaurant

A dumpster fire Thursday afternoon has Saanich police believing it may be linked to a rash of fires last Friday, including one that destroyed the ABC Country Restaurant on Maple Street.

Saanich fire crews responded to the 800-block of Tolmie Ave. around 1:30 p.m. after reports of a fire in a dumpster in the underground parkade below the Sears Home store.

Battalion chief Dave Bury said the sprinkler system in the parking garage went off, so crews were able to quickly extinguish the blaze.

The fire is being deemed suspicious, and has caught the attention of Saanich police.

The ABC restaurant that was set ablaze last week is two blocks from the Sears location. Police have yet to make arrests in the five fires that were set last Thursday night and Friday morning.

“Given the close proximity of the fires and given the type of incident, it would appear as though there is a likelihood that they may be related,” Sgt. Steve Eassie said Thursday, referring to the dumpster fires at ABC and Sears.

Victoria fire crews also responded to a fire Thursday morning at the Vacation Inn on Douglas Street, just south of Mayfair Shopping Centre. The hotel is less than a kilometre away from the Sears store.

Crews attended just after 10 a.m. Multiple fires had been set in the men’s washroom near the hotel restaurant, according to Lt. Insp. Brad Sifert with the Victoria Fire Department.

“They set fires in two stalls, and then they actually took a garbage can, put it on top of a toilet. And there’s a room where there’s storage, it looks like they tried to do that too by slipping something under the door,” Sifert said.

Investigators believe the bathroom fires were set by lighting toilet paper on fire, Sifert added.

Eassie said investigators are now sharing information with Victoria police and fire crews, and believe there could be a series of other recent fires that are related to the suspected arsons from today and last week.

“Investigators are going back looking over the incidents from the past month and are comparing notes,” Eassie said. “They’re going through methodically and trying to link any forensic evidence from either of the fires, trying to determine the source of all those fires, trying to determine concretely that they are related.”

Sifert says he and Saanich fire Capt. Rich Pala will be looking at any “nuisance fires” in the last month that weren’t previously investigated by police in either jurisdiction.

Fire crews responded to five suspicious fires in Saanich overnight between April 11 and 12. Pallets, dumpsters and outbuildings were the primary targets.

Police believe there are at least two people responsible for the fires.

Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to contact police at 250-475-4321.

kslavin@saanichnews.com