Waterloo Regional Police have arrested a 42-year-old woman after another fire was set at a Walmart in Kitchener Thursday night.
Police say emergency crews were initially called to the Sunrise Shopping Centre at around 9 p.m. after it was reported that a garbage bin was set on fire outside another store.
Kitchener fire Chief Robert Gilmore told Global News that once they put out the blaze in front of Winners, they were called to the Walmart store for the other fire.
He said there was no structural damage but pegged the smoke damage to be at around $1 million.
Alina Alfaro was at the Walmart on Ottawa Street when the fire broke out.
“It was a quiet evening and suddenly it turn into a very rushed, panicked, chaotic evening,” she told Global News on Facebook.
“People were upset that they couldn’t pay for what they spent their time shopping for. Everyone needed to get out.”
She said police responded quickly to the scene.
“A police officer arrived very fast and ran into the store rushing to the back,” she explained.
Alfaro, who was at the store to buy a gift for her son’s birthday after working 12 hours at a nearby hospital, says the fire appeared to be set in the paper products aisle once again. Fires were set in the same aisle in October of last year.
“All of a sudden I hear ‘code red paper aisle, code red paper aisle’ as the panicked voice announced overhead,” she said.
“Then I saw lots of people running towards the toilet paper aisle. There was so much smoke and employees trying to figure out what to do, one called 911.”
A police spokesperson told Global News that an arrest was made shortly after the fires were extinguished.
“Through investigation, It was determined that the fires were deliberately set and the suspect fled the area,” Const. Andre Johnson told Global News.
“Police were able to locate the suspect shortly thereafter and make an arrest as a result of the investigation.”
A 42-year-old Kitchener woman is facing multiple charges including arson – damage to property, arson – disregard human life, mischief over $5,000, theft under $5,000 and obstruct police.
Last October, the Walmart was one of three in Waterloo Region to have fires set in the toilet paper and paper towel aisle with the others being set at the former location in Stanley Park Mall in Kitchener as well as the one in Bridgeport Plaza in Waterloo.
It took a significant amount of time for the stores to reopen and restocked.
A spokesperson for Walmart told Global News the story will remain closed while they assess and clean up from this latest incident.
“Walmart will absolutely support our associates while the store is closed,” Felecia Fefer said in an email.
“They will be paid for their scheduled shifts and will be offered the opportunity to work in neighbouring stores to support the community as customers turn to these stores for their local needs.”