Sgt. Steve Eassie attends the aftermath of a major fire which levelled the playground at Copley Park East on Wednesday morning

UPDATE: Copley Park playground levelled by arson, second attempt in five days

Arson is suspected as a blaze levelled the Copley Park East playground at the 600-block of Vanalman Road on Wednesday morning (July 1).

Arson is suspected as a blaze levelled the Copley Park East playground at the 600-block of Vanalman Road on Wednesday morning (July 1).

The park is about 150 metres along the Colquitz River Trail, east of where the trail bisects Vanalman.

Saanich Fire responded to a 2:49 a.m. call from neighbours and had the original response unit had the fire under control within 15 minutes.

It’s the second time in five days a deliberate fire was set to the playground.

“It’s premature to say it’s a confirmed (arsonist),” said Saanich Police Sgt. Steve Eassie. “There appears to be two ignition points, and it was started with a similar (method) to the fire (which did considerably less damage) here on Saturday (June 27).”

The first of the two fires, which police believe are likely related, was reported at about 11 p.m. on Saturday. The damage from that fire was significant but limited to a single structure. Saanich Parks staff repaired it and deemed it safe for use as of Monday.

As of currently, the playground, or what’s left of it, is fenced off, a wasteland of twisted metal, charred wood and burnt bark mulch.

Police are investigating both fires.

“I’m blown away by the stroke of luck that the whole park or the forest area or any of the neighbouring homes (didn’t catch on fire) with how dry it is right now,” said nearby resident Elizabeth Hall.

(Inset photo: Copley Park East playground before it burned down. Credit

“Anything (in the playground) that could melt, melted, and anything that could burn, burned,” said Capt. Rich Pala, Saanich Fire department.

The heat of the fire melted the side of a plastic park garbage can, about five meters from the fire.

“It looks like vandalism,” Pala said. “It’s likely (the fire) was deliberately set but the definitive cause of the fire, we don’t have evidence for that, we don’t have any evidence to suggest it was smoking materials, like a smouldering cigarette butt.”

Pala said they got lucky on two fronts. Firstly, the playground is surrounded on many sides by concrete, and short grass (some of which was still green). Secondly, it was a still night without much wind. The playground could very easily have set ablaze a heavily wooded area of Colquitz Creek, just a few metres away.

“With that dry wooded area nearby, this is an extremely concerning event,” Eassie said.

Anyone that may have information about these incidents are asked to contact the Saanich Police Department at 250-475-4321 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).




Just Posted

Victoria Police host Faith-Based Safety Forum in light of recent religious attacks

More than 35 faith-based leaders voice concerns, air questions

Still barriers to abortion access on Vancouver Island

Experts say transportation, support, doctors can be barriers to accessing abortion

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

UPDATED: B.C. man says he’ll take People’s Party lawsuit as far as he can

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Most Read