Back to top

Arsonist strikes in downtown Grand Forks

Two meter high flames leaped above the rim of a steel bin before firefighters arrived on the scene to douse a dumpster fire Tuesday night in the alleyway behind Pharmasave in Grand Forks.
“Something just didn’t smell right,” was the initial impression of Jay Alblas, night manager at Panago Pizza. At approximately 8:18 p.m., Tuesday, May 3 he went behind the store for a breath of fresh air, only to find it foul. “So I looked around and saw one of the dumpsters smoking a little.”
That little stream of smoke soon turned into a raging blaze. “If that building wasn’t made of concrete, it would have been in big trouble,” added Alblas.
He phoned 911 and hung up at exactly 8:21 p.m. Firefighters were on scene by 8:29.
When notified of the eight minute turn around time, Deputy Fire Chief Dale Heriot was proud. “That’s great time for a team of volunteers. The call was routed from Kelowna to Trail to Grand Forks, and our guys took the call at home, raced over to the fire hall, geared up and were on site in eight minutes!” said Heriot.
When prompted if the firefighters training which took place over the weekend here in Grand Forks was of help to the team, Deputy Chief Heriot replied that, “some of our guys were involved in it,” and that, “training’s always a good thing.”
Heriot said that the cause is, “99% arson – someone probably threw a match in it.”
This is the second call – first for fire – that the team has responded to since the training event.
As for the Panago’s manager who phoned in the fire, Alblas wasn’t shaken. “I knew nobody was in danger, but it’s nice to know that help is there when needed,” Alblas added.
The whole event lasted less than half an hour.  

Information on the fire can be given confidentially to Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-(TIPS).