Lawn-care services for clients of SSCOPE had to be suspended after a fire Thursday at the North End charity that helps people with mental challenges.
A platoon chief at Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services confirmed a fire Thursday morning spread from garbage to a garage with garden equipment on the property at 1466 Arlington St.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation and no official estimate was released Thursday.
Dan Ingalls, the executive director of the charity, pegged the loss at $40,000 and said police told him they suspect it was arson.
He said police awakened him at 7 a.m. to inform him of the fire.
"They burned the garage door, the canopy and we lost five lawn mowers," Ingalls said by phone.
Ingalls issued a press statement Thursday announcing the fire was a suspected arson and asking for donations to replace five lawn mowers that burned in the blaze.
"Any financial donations would be greatly appreciated and (they) are tax deductible. This has been a really challenging year for us at SSCOPE, so although we have insurance, this fire is a setback for us and those we employ," Ingalls said in the statement.
SSCOPE (Self-Starting Creative Opportunities For People in Employment) was founded in 1990.It's a registered charity that provides minimum- wage jobs for people with mental challenges.
Some 100 people are currently registered for work at the charity. Some of those jobs include lawn care, now suspended until the charity can replace the garage and get new mowers.
Insurance is expected to cover the garage repairs.
"We're looking to turn a negative into a positive. Somebody tried to cause damage and they did. It did hurt us. It will slows us down. We have to replace our equipment," Ingalls said.
The lawn mowers were standard gas-powered models, he added.
On Wednesday, Ingalls said, two engine batteries were removed from the charity's cargo truck, in an apparent theft. He said he didn't know if the two incidents were related.