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Fire at Memorial Arena contained to outside staircase

The blaze in the early-morning hours of Feb. 13 appears to have damaged the deck and power pole connecting to the building and scorched some of the outside of the facility

A fire at Memorial Arena downtown has been deemed suspicious, but investigators don’t believe it was the work of an arsonist.

Kamloops Fire Rescue responded to the blaze, which erupted underneath a staircase and deck at the east end of the arena, at 1:22 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 13, with four fire trucks and knocked down the medium-sized blaze, which sent a plume of smoke into the sky.

Fire investigator Ray Webster told KTW the fire was determined to be human-caused, but no source of ignition could be determined.

“It started at the bottom of the deck supports,” Webster said. “There’s too much debris down there to know exactly what caused it.”

Kamloops RCMP, which provided traffic control on Victoria Street and Lansdowne Avenue, are also investigating.

“The fire was deemed suspicious, but does not appear to be criminal in nature at this time,” Const. Crystal Evelyn said.

Anyone who witnessed or has information related to this fire is asked to contact police at 250-828-3000 and reference file 2022-4659.

The fire appears to have damaged the deck and power pole connecting to the building and scorched some of the outside of the facility. Webster, however, said the fire did not make it inside the arena.

There were no reported injuries, according to Webster.

Memorial Arena is being transitioned back to its original use as a rink after acting as a temporary 50-bed shelter for the homeless since May 2020. The shelter has been operated by the Kamloops chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

Webster said the CMHA still has control of the building, but he is not aware if anyone was still using it as a shelter when the fire erupted.

Individuals housed at the arena are being moved to Merit Place in Sahali — the former Greyhound bus despot — which opened last week with a 50-bed capacity.

CMHA executive director Alfred Achoba told KTW there were 19 residents still living at the arena as well as and four staff members when the fire occurred. He said everyone was accounted for and there were no injuries as a result of the fire.

Achoba said they are not sure what caused the fire, which affected a portion of the roof, the staircase and a door to the side of the building.

As of Monday, all people have been moved out of the arena, Achoba said, adding they still have some housekeeping and belongings to take once they have access to the building again.

He said the CMHA will be moved out completely within the next few days.


Numerous fires concerning for KFR

The early-morning fire at Memorial Arena on Sunday was the fifth structure fire in the last 16 days to which KFR has responded, most of which have been in abandoned buildings.

On Jan. 28, crews put out a fire that broke out in a vacant house on Fifth Avenue, between Battle and Nicola streets, that was set for demolition as part of the City Gardens project.

On Feb. 4, at about 7 p.m., KFR made short work of a fire that erupted in an abandoned building at the former Red Sea Auto dealership lot at 156 Tranquille Rd. in North Kamloops. Hours later, at about 2 a.m. on Feb. 5, another empty home set for demolition as part of the City Gardens project downtown burst into flames, this time at the corner of Nicola and Fourth, across from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

A small fire was also extinguished quickly by firefighters in the vacant former Montana’s restaurant at 1055 Hillside Drive in Southgate on Feb. 8.

Webster said the cause of all the fires is human activity, but no sources of ignition were determined.

Webster said the fire department is concerned about the number of fires in such a short span of time involving abandoned buildings, noting KFR is working with various groups to get abandoned buildings in town either retrofitted or removed.

To his knowledge, Webster said the series of fires is not the work of a single person.



—This story was updated from an earlier version to add comment from CMHA executive director Alfreed Achoba