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SFD turns over suspicious fire investigations to police

SFD contacts SPS immediately when their investigation deems a fire to be suspicious.

SASKATOON — The Saskatoon Fire Department has turned over to the Saskatoon Police Service the results of their investigations of four separate incidents of garage fires in less than one week.

The most recent incident took place early Tuesday morning on the 1200 block of Avenue G North. The SFD received the 911 call at 5:54 a.m. and dispatched three engines, one ladder truck, a rescue unit and the battalion chief.

Arriving fire crews saw heavy black smoke and flames coming from the garage where a minivan parked near the structure also caught fire. Firefighters brought the fire under control at 6:16 a.m.

At 11:14 p.m. on Monday, June 6, the SFD responded to a report of two garages on fire on the 1500 block of Byers Crescent. Four engines, a ladder truck, one rescue unit and the battalion chief were dispatched.

The two garages were fully involved in flame when fire crews arrived at the scene and immediately advanced a hose line to attack the fire. They brought the fire under control at 11:35 p.m. but stayed at the scene to monitor hot spots and returned to their station at 12:37 a.m.

SFD fire investigators were dispatched to both scenes of the fire to determine the cause and origin examination. Fire investigators deemed both incidents to be suspicious and notified the Saskatoon Police Service for further investigation.

Last Friday, the SFD responded to two separate garage fires on the 600 block of Avenue J South and 500 block of Avenue E South that were also deemed suspicious by fire investigators. SFD investigators also called their counterparts at SPS for further investigation.

SPS Public Relations and Strategic Communications coordinator Brad Jennings told that their officers in the General Investigations Section are actively investigating all incidents and could not provide any update at this time.

SFD Acting Assistant Fire Chief Brian Conway told said they have always worked closely with SPS when it comes to investigations of fires that are deemed suspicious of origin.

“When a fire becomes suspicious when the fire investigator finds evidence, [SPS] is contacted right away. SPS is brought in because of the cause and origin of determination. Then the role of the police is on the criminal side of the investigation. We work as a joint task force and we can’t speak on their behalf,” said Conway.

He said SFD investigators base their assessment on all factors that they see on the scene and the knowledge they have learned in studying how fires start and their causes.

“Their role is to determine the cause of the fires. Once they are done they can pass that information. Fires that are suspicious of origin happen. They are usually a crime of opportunity and I guess there are a few things that property owners and landlords can do to reduce the risk [of fires],” said Conway.

He also reminded property owners and landlords to always check any material that can easily ignite and to also avoid having the garbage or recycling bins near combustible objects. Also, in the summer months, grass and weeds must also be mowed and disposed of properly.

“You know, if they cut the grass short that way it doesn't grow up that fast and eventually dry out because that [dried grass] can be another fire hazard,” added Conway.

All four fires caused estimated damages of $240,000 with the one at Byers Crescent costing $200,000 as two detached garages, a shed and two vehicles burned. The Avenue G North fire involved a detached garage, a fence, a vehicle and exterior damage to an adjacent garage.