Boxing Day fire cripples LFLS daycare expansion plans

The Laichwiltach Family Life Society (LFLS) received a very unwelcome gift on Boxing Day when a vacant trailer that was on their property at the corner of Cedar Street and 4th Avenue went up in flames, along with their current plans to expand their daycare services.

“When we got there, the trailer was fully involved and burning end to end,” Campbell River Fire Chief Ian Baikie says. “Crews got it knocked down quickly, but it’s a total loss.”

Baikie says that the trailer wasn’t in use at the time of the fire, and wasn’t even hooked up to any power sources, so it’s likely a suspicious fire. At this point, however, the exact cause of the blaze is unknown.

Baikie says it’s doubtful the fire department will ever be able to determine the exact cause of the fire due to the extent of the damage, but says the incident “is obviously an act of vandalism that (the RCMP) will be investigating,” and the fire department will be keeping a close eye on whether other suspicious fires start happening.

“At this point, there’s no pattern that we’re aware of”, Baikie says. “But if one arises, that’s a situation that we’re going to be taking very seriously”.

Rikki Thompson, who lives across the street and called the fire in, says it must have begun and spread very quickly, because she saw the trailer and nothing suspicious was happening around it at 5:30 p.m., but when her boyfriend called her to the window at 6:30, it was fully engulfed.

Audrey Wilson, executive director of LFLS, says the fire is a huge loss for the organization, as they were attempting to secure funding to renovate the unit – which had been generously donated to the LFLS by Jackie McRae – in order to expand their daycare services for toddlers. The daycare currently only has eight toddler spots, and 18 spaces for group care (for children aged 30 months to 5 years), and there are long wait lists for both sections. Those expansion plans will now be put on hold, Wilson says, “due to the loss of space and cost to LFLS to clean up this mess.” That cost, Wilson says, is yet to be determined, but will be significant. Anyone interested in helping with the cleanup efforts, or in any other way, can contact Wilson at 250-286-3430.

Anyone with information about the fire should contact the RCMP at 250-286-6221 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).