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Arson outside grocery store in central Edmonton concerns residents

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton police and fire crews are investigating an early morning blaze deliberately set next to a neighbourhood grocery store. Kendra Slugoski has more.

A fire was deliberately set outside a grocery store in central Edmonton early Monday morning, according to Edmonton Fire Rescue, and residents said this isn’t the first time.

The fire broke out at Fatima’s Discount Food Store on 66 Street, north of 118 Avenue, in the Montrose neighbourhood, just after 5 a.m.

Firefighters received six different calls about the blaze, including from local resident Christ Noppers who said he was woken by the sound.

“Heard a pop. By the second pop, went out my front door, saw the flames,” Noppers said. “Called 911 — by then they said that they’d received many calls — within seconds after that fire department showed up and they attacked it pretty quick.”

Edmonton firefighters putting out a fire at Fatima’s Discount Food Store (11816 66 St.) on Monday, July 15, 2019.
Edmonton firefighters putting out a fire at Fatima’s Discount Food Store (11816 66 St.) on Monday, July 15, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News

Crews arrived on scene five minutes after the initial call to find a fire burning outside the north side of the store.

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EFR said the deliberately set fire started among some pallets, cardboard and trash that was being stored next to the store. Firefighters stopped the flames from spreading too far.

“Just minor damage to the corner of the building,” Fire captain Glen Maines said. “The guys got a line on that right away and we were able to minimize the damage to the building.”

The owner of Fatima’s said there has been a fire there before, which Noppers said was about a year and a half ago.

“This is a staple in this neighbourhood,” said Noppers, who has lived nearby for about four years. He called the owner of the business to alert them of the fire.

“Good business owners, they’re always in the community. If you don’t have the exact change — they don’t care,” he said.

Edmonton firefighters putting out a fire at Fatima’s Discount Food Store (11816 66 St.) on Monday, July 15, 2019.
Edmonton firefighters putting out a fire at Fatima’s Discount Food Store (11816 66 St.) on Monday, July 15, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News

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The owner of Fatima’s didn’t want to be interviewed but told Global News he’s been in business for about 10 years and claimed things have gotten rough in the neighbourhood recently. Noppers explained the uphill battle.

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“Unfortunately, in this area we’re still dealing with people that have drug habits. But fortunately, with our local beat cops and stuff like that, they’ve been working hard and you know, us the community working with them and everybody’s trying to clean this area up.”

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The fire was called under control at 5:20 a.m. and was fully extinguished by 6:30 a.m.

The north side exterior wall of the building, a storage trailer and a van were slightly damaged but the inside of the store was spared.

Police and fire investigators were on scene investigating the arson. Damage is estimated at $7,500.

Alberta Environment and Drainage was also called due to contamination from the run-off.

Edmonton firefighters putting out a fire at Fatima’s Discount Food Store (11816 66 St.) on Monday, July 15, 2019.
Edmonton firefighters putting out a fire at Fatima’s Discount Food Store (11816 66 St.) on Monday, July 15, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News