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‘Steady increase’ of suspicious and deliberately set fires in northeast Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Number of suspicious and deliberately set fires increasing in northeast Edmonton' Number of suspicious and deliberately set fires increasing in northeast Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton Fire Rescue Services says there's a steady increase of suspicious and deliberately set fires in the city's northeast. As Nicole Stillger explains, it's leaving those who live in the area on edge – Nov 17, 2021

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services says it’s seen a continued rise in fires in the northeast quadrant of the city over the past 12 months.

In a six-month period between May 2021 and October 2021, there were 281 fire-related events compared to the 148 fire-related events in the six-month period between November 2020 and April 2021.

The fastest-growing cause is fires that are deliberately set or are suspicious, EFRS said.

Fires in vacant buildings and outside are seeing the largest increase in frequency.

So, the fire department is improving its data collection and reporting systems to better track these fires and determine the root causes.

Read more: Suspected arson the leading cause of fires in Alberta Avenue: Edmonton Fire Rescue Services

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For instance, all details of fire incidents, regardless of severity or cause, are now logged, compiled and analyzed.

In addition, all fire incidents, regardless of cause, criminality or severity are now reported directly to Edmonton police in real time to improve the appropriate response.

Read more: 1 person taken to hospital after fire in north Edmonton early Thursday

“We recognize that there has been an increase in fire frequency in the northeast and I want to reassure Edmontonians that we are working closely with other emergency service agencies and municipal agencies to mitigate fire risk in all areas of the city, with a strong emphasis on the northeast vacant property and arson fire problem,” said Fire Chief Joe Zatylny.

“Citizen safety and community risk reduction is and continues to be our primary focus.”

EFRS is working with Edmonton Police Service, Alberta Health Services and the City of Edmonton Community Standards and Neighbourhoods branch to address this issue with a more holistic approach,” the fire department said.

Christy Morin is the executive director of Arts on the Ave. She called what’s happening in her community a crisis.

“The last year has been unbelievable. Every time you hear a siren, you’re on edge,” Morin explained.

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“We are at this epicentre of fires and criminal activity that we need help, and we need it now.”

It’s an issue she wants the city to pay more attention to.

“We don’t have time on our hands,” Morin said. “People that are really wonderful are wanting to move out of the neighbourhood.

“We don’t want to see them leave.”

Read more: Arson charge laid after multiple fires in Edmonton’s river valley

The northeast side is not alone. EFRS said there’s been an increase in the frequency of intentionally-set fires across all building classifications across the city.

Residents are asked to do their part to prevent fires:

  • Ensure your property is clean and clear of garbage, piles of brush, flammable liquids, gasoline containers, used furniture, old vehicles and other materials that could be used to start fires.
  • Become familiar with your neighbours and report any suspicious activity to EPS.
Click to play video: '2 people injured, 3 homes destroyed by fire in Klarvatten neighbourhood' 2 people injured, 3 homes destroyed by fire in Klarvatten neighbourhood
2 people injured, 3 homes destroyed by fire in Klarvatten neighbourhood – May 28, 2021

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