Alberni RCMP investigating suspicious sports shed blaze
Port Alberni RCMP are investigating a fire that heavily damaged the equipment storage shed on Russell Field across the street from Echo Centre.
Emergency personnel responded to a call of a structure fire on Russell Field at 4:45 p.m., Port Alberni Fire Department Captain John Haley said.
Upon arrival, firefighters found heavy black smoke and flames emanating from the building. Firefighters doused the shed with water and the flames were out in minutes, Haley said.
There was no one present when firefighters arrived, and no injuries were reported, he added.
A fire inspector was examining the inside of the burned-out structure. No cause has been determined but the investigation is now a police matter.
“The fire seems to be of suspicious nature because there was no reason for a fire to be there. We've turned it over to the RCMP,” Haley said.
The shed is used for equipment storage by the Alberni Valley Minor Soccer Association and formerly by the Black Sheep Rugby Club.
The incident is a blow to Port Alberni youth, AV Soccer Association chair Brad Berry said. "It's so unfortunate that someone may have chosen to do this because the impact was on the youth of the Alberni Valley."
Berry said he's been told that some of the association's equipment survived the blaze "But I won't know how much until likely tomorrow," he said.
The Black Sheep haven't used the shed for storage in some time, club spokesperson Jas Purewal said. The Black Sheep now have their own facility on Argyle Street. "Still, it's a bummer that this happened," he said. "This is a small town and they don't need that. No one needs that kind of headache."