Arson suspected in Gasoline Alley blazes

A suspected arsonist is being blamed for setting four vacant buildings on fire in a week on one site within Gasoline Alley’s west side.

The remains of a garage burned in a suspicious fire lie near a house that burned earlier last week at the former Repairs Unlimited yard on Gasoline Alley north Monday.

The remains of a garage burned in a suspicious fire lie near a house that burned earlier last week at the former Repairs Unlimited yard on Gasoline Alley north Monday.

A suspected arsonist is being blamed for setting four vacant buildings on fire in a week on one site within Gasoline Alley’s west side.

Red Deer rural RCMP have been called in to investigate after blazes occurred at four different times on the Servus Credit Union-owned property.

The latest blaze happened at about 10:10 p.m. Sunday on the site located along Waskasoo Avenue and just east of Leva Avenue within Red Deer County.

Travellers passing by on nearby Hwy 2 could see a plume of smoke billowing into the sky darkness while volunteer firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze in minutes.

Ric Henderson, director of emergency management and assistant Red Deer County manager, was among the firefighters still at the scene at 11:45 p.m.

Part of the attack plan included dousing the fire with foam because the garage contained hazardous contents including paint, Henderson said.

When it was over, all that was left was a charred black skeleton.

“This is the fourth building on the property that’s been burned in (the past week), so the police are investigating,” Henderson said. “These have been vacant buildings for years.”

Henderson expressed frustration that someone was intentionally setting these fires, without thinking of the dangers to people’s lives.

“It’s putting everyone at risk for something that doesn’t need to be happening,” he said. “All our people are volunteers. “

On Aug. 29, a house located deep in the trees beyond the parking lot was burned. Extensive damage was done to the attached carport.

The second blaze occurred on Friday afternoon when a split-level house closer to the road was burned, its roof completely absent on one side. A yellow kitchen chair was among the few items that escaped the wrath of the flames.

On Saturday night, a metal warehouse with signs reading, Repairs Unlimited, was heavily burned. The structure still stood, but there were smashed windows and remnants of firefighter foam spread entirely through the interior.

The road passing by the heavily treed property leads essentially to a dead-end so not many travellers would come that way, unless they’re looking for a way to get back onto the highway. The entrance onto the property includes a wide area in which to park next to the burned split level. Immediately to the south of the house is the destroyed garage. A few small shacks are also nestled more at the back of the property, plus a mobile home that’s being offered for sale.

Henderson said the property used to be part of an old auto wrecking business before it was sold off to a credit union.

Around 2007, Community Savings bought the 11-acre parcel as a possible site for new administrative headquarters. A merger then happened between the Red Deer-based Community Savings and Servus Credit Union and Common Wealth Credit Union. Servus Credit Union now owns the property, according to Henderson.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com