Police investigating string of tow-truck fires in Toronto, York Region

Click to play video: 'Tow trucks torched in what may be a ‘turf war’' Tow trucks torched in what may be a ‘turf war’
WATCH ABOVE: Police in Toronto and York Region are investigating after five tow trucks were set on fire in both jurisdictions. As Morganne Campbell reports, insiders say there’s a turf war among operators in the GTA. – Dec 23, 2019

Police are investigating a string of tow-truck fires that occurred in Toronto and York Region early Monday.

Toronto Fire Services said three tow-truck fires broke out in North York within 30 minutes of each other around 4 a.m.

A Toronto fire spokesperson told Global News the most serious blaze occurred on Drewry Avenue, near Bathurst Street and Finch Avenue, where flames reportedly spread to a garage and a house.

One of the other tow trucks caught fire on a street, while the third occurred in the driveway of a home.

READ MORE: Hamilton police investigating 3 separate overnight tow-truck fires

In the third incident, the homeowner was able to extinguish the flames before the vehicle was significantly damaged, Toronto fire said.

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York Regional Police said around the same time as these fires, two tow-truck fires were reported in Richmond Hill.

Police said the incidents were reported simultaneously, though they were located in two different places.

Both incidents occurred in the driveways of homes, one on Collin Court and the other on Wood Lane.

READ MORE: Drivers asked to ‘move over’ after two Toronto tow trucks hit by passing vehicles

It’s believed an accelerant was placed underneath the two tow trucks, York police said, adding that both trucks set on fire in Richmond Hill were owned by the same company but operating under different names.

No injuries were reported in any of the cases.

There’s no word on suspect information, but police said it’s believed all of the incidents are connected.

In a news release later Monday morning, York police said there was another tow truck which caught on fire early Saturday morning in Richmond Hill.

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Mark Graves, president of the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario, told Global News it appears there has been “a significant amount of escalation” recently, adding several companies seem to be challenging each other for work.

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“Too many tow trucks servicing a specific area and not enough work to go around. The towing industry is not subsidized like other emergency responses, such as police fire and ambulance,” he said.

“If there’s not a lot of work at any given time, they may be fighting for their share of the work or what they feel is their share of the work. It could be just that they want more work too — it’s hard to say.”

Graves said there needs to be more government action “to curb” the problem.

READ MORE: Hundreds of tow truck drivers pay their respects to driver killed on the job in Ontario

“We’ve been working with the government trying to establish some provincial licensing and minimum standards that we believe will help this issue … right now the towing industry has no real rules or regulations to go by,” he said.

“We could give you a set of keys right now and say, ‘Go out and tow,’ and you could go out on the highway and work and do tow calls. With no minimum training standards, equipment standards and operational standards, it’s pretty hard to control anything.

“It makes the industry look bad. The industry as a whole is a great industry. There are some bad things happening, but the industry for the most part seems to be in agreement that minimum training standards and licensing are a necessity.”

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Meanwhile, anyone with information on the fires is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers anonymously.

— With files from Nick Westoll

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