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12-year-old boy charged following Rochdale Walmart fire: Regina police

'Started to fill with dense, thick smoke': fire breaks out at Rochdale Walmart
Regina police and fire crews attended to a blaze that happened inside the Rochdale Walmart on Tuesday evening. Kael Donnelly / Global News

UPDATE: Regina police have charged a 12-year-old boy with arson in connection to a Tuesday night fire inside the Rochdale Walmart in the city’s north end.

Police said store surveillance footage played a key role in identifying a suspect and laying the charge.

“It’s my understanding that there was significant damage. It’s a large store and the smoke damage and water damage to merchandise not even in the immediate of the fire was significant,” said Elizabeth Popowich, Regina police spokesperson.

The child can’t be named under the youth justice act, but will make his first court appearance on Thursday morning.

In a statement emailed to Global News, Walmart said they are staying closed until clean-up and repairs are completed.

No timeline was given as to when it will reopen.

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Regina fire confirmed the store’s fire alarm system was working properly at the time of the blaze.

Original story continues here…

Shoppers inside the Rochdale Walmart in Regina got an unexpected surprise on Tuesday night when flames broke out inside the store.

Jordan Blodgett was having a coffee inside a nearby Tim Hortons when he saw emergency vehicles pass by — he decided to check it out.

“When I got there, there were about three or four firetrucks there, with about two more on the way,” Blodgett said.

“I’m used to seeing false alarms, but I knew something was up when I saw the firefighters moving around quickly, then grabbing hoses and opening a fire hydrant.”

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Regina police and fire crews responded to a 911 call from Walmart staff shortly before 8:30 p.m.

 

“The building started to fill with dense, thick smoke,” Blodgett said.

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Regina firefighters extinguished the blaze and cleared everyone from the building, police said.

No one was injured.

“There wasn’t much of a crowd, so my guess is that the store was pretty slow,” Blodgett said

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“My heart really breaks for the staff there, who I imagine will be out of work for a period of time leading up to Christmas.”

According to multiple Facebook posts and video, the fire looks to have started in the paper towel aisle.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.