Thrift store fire was arson, Salvation Army told

Daniel MacEachern
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Firefighters from four stations of the St. John’s Regional Fire Department were called to fight a structure fire at the Salvation Army Thrift Store at 51 Kenmount Rd. just after 12 a.m. Thursday. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The Salvation Army says it has been told an early morning fire that damaged its Kenmount Road thrift store was arson.

Bill May, national property manager for the Salvation Army’s thrift stores, said Thursday afternoon police have said the fire was deliberately set.

“It is under investigation. I have been told tentatively, although not officially, that it was definitely arson,” said May.

Firefighters from four stations were called to fight the fire early Thursday morning, just after midnight, and Newfoundland Power crews had to cut the power to the building while the fire raged in a corner of the building. St. John’s regional fire Chief Derek Chafe said Thursday the fire started in a pile of donations on the parking lot behind the building.

The RNC told The Telegram the fire was still under investigation and would not confirm it was arson.

Const. Steve Curnew said Thursday the fire investigator is still examining the evidence. “He’s got a couple of things he needs to look into before we do any release on it, so right now we’re still under investigation,” said Curnew.

Curnew said the police were hoping to have more information today. “We want to make sure that our information is correct.

“There’s some video that’s going to be reviewed, and some other things that need to be reviewed before we can make a determination. There’s a couple of other leads that we need to go down before we want to make a statement on it.”

May said it’s too early to know the cost of the damage done by the fire.

“We’re still doing the assessment, but there’s considerable damage outside,” he said.

“We lost all power to the store, and there’s smoke damage inside and damage to both the front and the back doors where the fire department had to gain entry.”

May estimated that the cost of the fire would run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The store is closed, and May said he didn’t know how long it would take to reopen, but expects it will be at least a week.

“Until we’ve finished the final assesment on what repairs are needed and how extensive the smoke damage is — my people haven’t even been able to gain entrance to the interiors yet. We’re still waiting for the insurance adjuster. But I suspect we’re looking at a week, possibly longer.”

The store’s closure doesn’t end

the need for donations, said May — in fact, the damage done means

the Salvation Army will need even more.

“We may have lost some of the donations we have, even through smoke and water damage,” said May, who noted that the donations the Salvation Army receives are uninsurable.

“It would be great if the public could help us in that manner.”

There is a trailer and container on the store’s parking lot, said May, and staff will be onsite to collect and keep donations until they’re able to get back inside the store.

 Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: The Salvation Army, Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: Kenmount Road

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Recent comments

  • Josephine Gaulton-Rowe
    July 05, 2013 - 09:15

    This is pretty low! What is our world coming to???

  • Me
    July 05, 2013 - 08:47

    I work at the store, and unfortunately, all of us employees are completely confident that this was an act of arson. Every morning when we come into work we are greeted by donations strewn across the ground, no longer usuable, thanks to those who come at night illegally cutting donation bags open, rifling through the contents...using makeshift tools to beat the locks off the donation bins. We have replaced those locks countless numbers of times. The last time may have angered them to the point of retaliation.The surveillance cameras unfortunately are not a deterrent. We are all saddened by this. Returning to work after Canada Day weekend was the worst we have ever seen. You literally could not even see the pavement around the donation bins because the ground was strewn with clothes and other items. The clean-up took days. I hope the police find those who did this and these brought to justice. This is just taking the vandalism to a whole new level.

  • Townie
    July 05, 2013 - 08:22

    I really hope the final cause isn't ruled as arson. I would hate to think that there is someone terrible enough out there to target a charitable organization. Truly a heartbreaking set back. I only hope the thrift store can get up and running again soon. I'm sure the public will donate generously to assist with the loss. I will clean out my own closet soon and take a couple of bags of donations over.