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Vehicles used for firefighter training in Oliver, B.C., torched; arson suspected

A firefighter looks at the smoking, charred remains of several vehicles that were torched in Oliver, B.C., on Friday. The vehicles had been used by the fire department for training. Oliver Fire Department

Several cars in the South Okanagan that had been used for firefighter training were torched on Friday.

The Oliver Fire Department posted a photo to its Facebook page of the arson-charred vehicles.

The vehicles were parked at the fire department’s training grounds, and were slated to be crushed after being used for training.

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Instead, crews were called the scene during the lunch hour to put out the burning vehicles after they had been drenched with fuel and lit on fire.

The incident came on the heels of an earlier vandalism incident, where two vehicles described as being in good condition for training were heavily vandalized.

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“On the heels of the incident of vandalism of several cars at our training grounds, someone decided to torch several cars there,” the Oliver Fire Department said on its Facebook post.

“Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the RCMP.”

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Fire chief Bob Graham called the vandalism and arson dispiriting acts, as the vehicles are being used to help the public.

“We have a course for some of our newer members coming up next weekend,” said Graham. “And on Wednesday, somebody came and smashed all the windows, pounded on the hoods, jumped on the roofs … just messed them up.

“We weren’t very happy when we found out.”

Then came Friday’s arson.

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“That’s not what we had anticipated in the middle of the day,” said Graham, adding the crews made short work of the fires courtesy of car-fire training.

“But it’s just really frustrating (that this happened). We don’t do it for pleasure; we’re there training for the safety of the community.”

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A silver lining did occur, though, with Graham noting three vehicles have been donated for training purposes.

Those vehicles, however, won’t be stored at the training grounds, which will soon feature security cameras.

“To go and have to scrounge for vehicles and then have ruined … we posted on Facebook and, fortunately, three members of the community have donated vehicles for us to use,” said Graham. “That’s great.”

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