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This article was published 17/8/2011 (3361 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Fire destroyed a double garage in the West End just after midnight Wednesday, sending a young family scrambling for safety.
"I'm angry someone would want to burn our property and hurt my family," said Chris Dale, surveying the damage behind his home in the 1200 block of Dominion Street on Wednesday morning.
It was the latest in a string of back-lane and garage fires around the city. It was reported at 12:32 a.m. by neighbours across the back lane, where a couch caught fire.
The fire caused an estimated $75,000 damage and is under investigation, a Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service spokesman said.
The blaze is one of three overnight fires the city's arson strike force is looking into, police said Wednesday. An hour after the Dales' garage was set ablaze, a homeowner in the 2200 block of Burrows Avenue extinguished a fire at about 1:30 a.m. that caused $200 in damage. Around 4:50 a.m., fire damaged a shed and its contents at the City of Winnipeg yards at Plessis Road and Ravelston Avenue West. The damage there is estimated at $20,000. No injuries were reported in any of the three overnight fires.
As far as the Dales can tell, their property, like the torched couch nearby, was deliberately set on fire.
"It's bad," said Chris's wife, Charlene Dale. She and her husband work from their home. The fire destroyed all Chris's landscaping equipment as well as the couple's 2004 vehicles -- a GMC truck and a Honda van.
"It's a shame," said Charlene, who runs a home daycare. They have insurance, but the fire was senseless, scary and disruptive, she said.
She had to call parents and cancel her childcare services for the day. When her daycare reopens, "the kids won't be able to play in the backyard," she said, looking at the sandbox full of toys next to the melted exterior of their home and scorched new fence.
The burning garage melted the siding next to the bedroom where their six-year-old son sleeps, a shaken Charlene said.
Their three-year-old daughter was frightened as they hustled to get out of the house, she said.
She doesn't feel their West End neighbourhood is any less safe than any other part of the city.
"There's no bad neighbourhood... they're all bad -- River Heights, St. James, Charleswood, it doesn't matter."
On Tuesday, police said they charged a 16-year-old boy with a series of arsons in Transcona. He was arrested early Sunday morning after blazes broke out minutes apart in garbage bins on Nairn Avenue and Clyde Road, causing about $1,000 in damage to each. He was also charged with other arsons in the area and is in custody.
Two weeks ago, police arrested 20-year-old Brandon Sutyla in 18 fires concentrated in the Fort Rouge area.
There have been no arrests in recent fires at locations including the Assiniboine Golf Course, a condo complex on Fairlane Avenue and the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre.
With so many fires continuing and a series of arrests, Charlene Dale can't understand who is starting them.
"If it's someone who's sick, it's someone who's sick. But if it's a bunch of teens or young adolescents, maybe there should be more serious punishment for young offenders," she said.
The mother and caregiver was trying to figure out why someone would want to cause such damage.
"I wonder if it has something to do with gangs," she said, referring to some kind of initiation rite.
Firefighters searching out flammable items to remove
City firefighters will patrol neighbourhoods in search of flammable items that could be a potential target for arsonists.
In response to Winnipeg's recent rash of arsons, Mayor Sam Katz said he asked city public works and water and waste officials to pick up any flammable items identified by fire crews, such as mattresses and sofas, within 48 hours.
Katz said firefighters are currently driving through back lanes in various city neighbourhoods, looking for materials or garbage that arsonists could set ablaze. He said if they see such items, the goal is to get residents to agree to removal. City staff will then remove the items within 48 hours.
Winnipeggers who need bulky waste such as mattresses, box springs or household furniture taken away can phone 311 to request the items be picked up on their regular garbage-collection day.
A fee may apply.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.