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London police investigating two separate fires deemed suspicious

Fire crews at the scene of a blaze at the Salvation Army Centre of Hope. 980 CFPL/Andrew Graham

London police are investigating two separate from the past 24-hours that have been deemed suspicious.

The latest took place Thursday morning at the Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope on Wellington Street near York Street.

Fire crews say they were called to the Centre of Hope around 6:20 a.m. and were able to put out the blaze quickly.

“Our crews arrived, and there were reports of heavy smoke on the third floor. Our crews advanced and were able to make entry and were able to extinguish the fire quite quickly,” said platoon Chief Colin Shewell.

READ MORE: East London house fire causes $80K in damage, displaces 10 people — London Fire Department

Few details are known about the blaze at this point. Smoke and water damage has been reported on the third floor, and officials say one staff member was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.

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There’s no word on the cause of the fire, and a damage estimate hasn’t been given.

The London Fire Department says the fire appears to be suspicious in nature, and London police and a fire investigator remain at the scene to investigate.

READ MORE: Police deem southwest London barn fire suspicious

Shewell told Global News the London Transit Commission had been requested to bring in buses to shelter third-floor residents, adding that officials are working with the city to find temporary shelter if residents cannot return to their homes for an extended period of time.

“We’ve been working closely with our emergency management team for the City of London and, as well, with our partners from London police to make sure everyone has somewhere to go for the interim,” he said.

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The second fire deemed suspicious occurred Wednesday night on Tallwood Road, a small side street off Windermere Road near Richmond Street.

Shewell said firefighters were alerted of the blaze by a home alarm system around 9 p.m. He said firefighters were met with a person on the front lawn of the home and were able to knock down the blaze afterward.

The person on the lawn was sent to hospital due to smoke inhalation, Shewell said, and a firefighter suffered minor burns during the operation.

“One of his wrists were exposed, the fire got under his bunker gear, and sustained a minor injury,” Shewell said.

“He was assessed by Middlesex-London paramedic services on scene and released, so all’s good that way.”

Damage for the blaze was pegged at more than $150,000, Shewell said. London police will remain on scene Thursday to investigate.

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Social distancing has also been taken into consideration as fire crews continue to battle blazes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Don’t be alarmed when you see our crews show up with masks, glasses, medical gloves on, and definitely don’t be offended if we’re keeping at least six feet of distance between us and the public,” Shewell said.

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— With files from 980 CFPL’s Andrew Graham

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