Fire deals blow to CGC programs

Firefighters from North Cowichan’s South End Hall were split into two teams early Thursday morning.

Firefighters from North Cowichan’s South End Hall were split into two teams early Thursday morning.

Half the crew fought an RV fire on Hall Road while the other group got some mutual aid from the City of Duncan’s firefighters to tackle a blaze in a portable classroom at Kin Park off Alderlea Street.

Cowichan Green Community executive director Judy Stafford is devastated at the loss of their new building and its contents.

The portable had been donated to her group by School District 79 for use as a base for their summer camps and fall programming, as well as a family drop-in centre. They had a ping pong table set up and a pool table had just been donated by Chemainus Neighbourhood House.

All of their supplies were inside.

“It was our family drop-in centre that we were getting ready to launch. We were storing all of our equipment in there — stockpiling for our programming,” Stafford said. “We were going to be launching all of our fall programming there but now we’re going to have to delay all of that.”

Still up on blocks, plans were imminent for contractors to go in and pour a foundation for the building.

“I’m pretty upset,” Stafford said from a conference in Kelowna. “At least it was insured.”

It is her understanding that authorities may be investigating a suspect.

“I don’t know exactly what happened but I guess somebody broke in through a window,” she said.

Perhaps they were cold and wanted to warm up, she speculated.

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Krista Hobday said the fire has been deemed suspicious.

“There are two possible suspects but it’s an ongoing investigation to determine the cause,” she said.

For Stafford, there’s not much she can do from Kelowna except to let the events sink in and ponder Cowichan Green Community’s next move.

“It’s so sad because the summer was so great,” she said. “We had such a good summer at the park. The kids were so happy. But I’m glad it didn’t happen in the summer, I’m glad there were no summer camp kids there. I’m glad nobody got hurt.”