Arson, other suspicious fire calls nearly double in NE Edmonton: EFRS

EDMONTON –

There’s been a big spike in fire calls in northeast Edmonton this year, and the fire chief says a lot of them are arson or other types of “suspicious” blazes.

Between May and October of 2021 crews responded to 281 fire-related calls in northeast Edmonton, nearly double what was reported in the previous six months.

“These fires almost always involve our vulnerable members of our society,” Joe Zatylny of Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said in an interview.

“We continue to work with them and get them to where they need to be. Ultimately though, it’s our responsibility to put out fires that aren’t being started in the appropriate areas.”

On Tuesday, a city report found that the number of people experiencing homelessness has doubled since 2019, and governments are struggling to provide permanent housing, or even emergency shelter.

Arson calls are also on the rise across the city, officials said.

“We’re in the early phases with EPS and AHS with developing a proactive public safety presence approach to promote increase in pro-social behaviour while supporting vulnerable populations in the community,” Zatylny said.

“We’ve just launched this joint effort with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services so we cannot speak to specific actions but our collective goal is to look at ways to address this growing problem,” said Keith Scott with the City of Edmonton.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is asking residents to help by keeping yards clear of debris and other flammable material, and report any suspicious activity to police.

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