With the wave of her magic wand, three-year old Ella Fallow hoped to repair the upper landing of her favourite playground. Ella was in tears when she and her father, Sandy, made their regular visit on Sunday (June 28), and found a considerable portion of the Copley Park playground blackened and melted from fire.
“We’re regular visitors to this playground almost every morning. Ella was devastated,” Sandy said.
Both Saanich Fire and Police responded to the fire on the weekend after calls came in around 11 p.m. on Saturday. The playground is located in Copley Park East, about 150 metres along the trail that begins in the 600-block of Vanalman Ave.
The fire centred around the upper landing of the playground structure. The structure is again in usable condition as Saanich Parks staff made repairs first-thing on Monday morning, reinforcing it while also cleaning up the residual fire retardant.
The fire appears to have been deliberately set, said Saanich Police Sgt. Steve Eassie.
“It (also) appears to be an isolated incident at this point. However, investigators seized evidence … which could help them connect it to another fire,” Eassie said.
Eassie said the call came from a witness who saw the fire from the road after they exited a BC Transit bus.
“It’s helpful when citizens are vigilant and respond to fires right away. Obviously, the fire could have been widespread in these conditions,” Eassie added.
Saanich Fire Battalion Chief Dave Elder said there’s a spike in the number of small fires being reported right now, a direct result of the current heat wave.
“Some are brush fires, the nature of things such as (dry) bark mulch (is contributing to that),” Elder said.
It’s been three weeks since Saanich’s June 11 brush fire that devastated Camrose Park and threatened multiple houses along Maplewood Road and Camrose Crescent.
The result of the Camrose fire likely will not be determined, Eassie said, though investigators are able to conclude, with little doubt, that the Copley playground fire was arson.
“Why would someone choose to get their kicks doing something like this,” Sandy said.
“Maybe it was just an end-of-school (party) prank that went wrong. But we just moved here (from Victoria) a month ago, and we have to ask, ‘Is there an arsonist in this area?’”