Arson suspected in blaze at NorKam secondary
Police and fire officials are investigating a suspicious early-morning fire at a North Kamloops school.
Just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, someone called 911 after spotting smoke rising above NorKam secondary.
Kamloops Fire Rescue crews arrived within minutes and called for back-up after spotting smoke and flames.
KFR Assistant Chief Dennis Fayers said firefighters weren’t taking any chances, given the building they were dealing with.
“A structure like this, we take this very seriously,” he said.
Firefighters had to force their way into the school, breaking a window on a door adjacent to the back parking lot to gain entry.
Fayers said the blaze itself was in the courtyard in the centre of the school. It was extinguished before it could spread to the structure.
“It was a metal storage container in the courtyard that was on fire,” he said.
Investigators believe the container was filled with wrestling mats and gym equipment, and the smell of burned plastic was strong in the air outside NorKam as crews put the finishing touches on the blaze.
Fayers acknowledged it was fortunate the call came in so quickly.
But, he said, it appears as though the fire was the result of arson.
“It’s suspicious,” he said. “Things don’t usually start on fire in the middle of the night — not like this.”
The blaze is the latest in a string of more than a dozen suspicious fires in North Kamloops, dating back to the spring of 2011.
Most recently, on New Year’s Day, KFR responded to a report of a fire in an alley off Sudbury Avenue.
A garbage can had been set ablaze, with flames spreading to a nearby fence.
The fire was put out before any structures were endangered.
Residents of a house on Chestnut Avenue weren’t so lucky in October, when a similar alley fire spread first to a shed and then to their home, eventually gutting the home.
Most of the other suspicious fires have been limited mainly to sheds and garages.
Upwards of 20 firefighters were at NorKam secondary, in addition to a half-dozen Kamloops RCMP officers.
The investigation will now be handed over to police.
Anyone with information can call Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.