It appears Regina has some real firebugs in the city with reports of arsons on the rise.
According to Regina Fire and Protective Services, since Nov. 1 last year there have been 53 structure fires in Regina and 27 of those were determined to be deliberately set. That means more than half of fires in that time were arson, which fire marshal Randy Ryba said is a much higher proportion than normal.
“This is not the kind of behaviour we want to see in our city.”
Ryba said this trend is disturbing, and called it frustrating.
“It becomes serious when our citizens are put at risk, and our firefighters – for fires that never should have happened in the first place.”
“It becomes serious when our citizens are put at risk, and our firefighters – for fires that never should have happened in the first place.” – Randy Ryba, fire marshal
Ryba said the fires tend to be set in the North Central and Core-Ritchie neighbourhoods. Some, but not all, of these fires are set in abandoned or boarded up buildings.
No citizens have been hurt in the fires, as far as Ryba knows, but one fire fighter was hurt in a blaze on Toronto Street that was deliberately set.
“It’s quite obvious to me that the people who do this sort of behaviour really don’t care about who they may injure, they really don’t,” said Ryba.
Ryba pointed out the fire department is involved with several initiatives to stop the trend, including working more closely with police, and working with public educators.
“If people are intent on doing this sort of activity, it’s harder to curtail, let’s face it, than trying to be preventive, and teaching people to be fire safe.”
Ryba said the fire department has noticed an increasing trend of arsons for about a year and a half. The fires this year are on track to be similar to last year’s deliberately-set fires, which were about 90 per cent higher than reports prior to 2014.
“It’s the reckless behaviour and the criminal activity that caused these fires that has almost doubled in frequency that has certainly Regina police, and Regina fire concerned.”
As for the Regina Police Service, officers have investigated 43 fire cases since Nov. 1. In those cases, 14 people have been charged including eight minors and six adults.