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Arson suspected in Friday's Olds structure fire

A fire was contained to the attached garage at the back of Olds Association for Community Living's building

OLDS - A structure fire at the Olds Association for Community Living building in Olds, located at 5025 - 51st Street, on Friday night has been deemed to be suspicious, said Olds Fire Department Chief Justin Andrew.

“We are investigating with the RCMP,” he told the Albertan Monday morning.

There were  no reports of injuries, he said, noting there were no occupants in the building at the time of the fire.

Seventeen firefighters in five apparatus attended the scene starting at 10:33 p.m.

“There was a garage type structure in the rear alley of the building and that’s where the fire was located,” he said. “The structure is attached to the main building and it did contain a vehicle that was involved in the fire. 

“All the fire was contained to that structure and there was some smoke spread into the main office building but no fire damage.”

Officials have not yet determined the extent of the damage as far as financial loss, he said.

“The costs will be extensive as the structure and the contents were all affected inside,” he said.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Gina Slaney told the Albertan that a female youth was located near the scene shortly emergency crews arrived. She was questioned and then released without charges.

“The fire was determined to originate from a van parked inside the garage,” she said. “It is suspected to be arson but we are awaiting the fire investigator’s report.”

Police located newly sprayed graffiti on the building, including a drawing of a penis, a smiley face and some numerals, she said.

Asked if the graffiti is somehow related to the fire, she said, “I would think it’s all related, but I don’t know until we looking into it further. I would say it’s the same incident.”

Chief Andrew said the department has not been called to the location for any previous incidents that he is aware of.

Staff say there was a break-in to the garage in recent weeks.

Olds Association for Community Living provides residential services, proprietorship services, respite supports, supported employment services, volunteer work experience and community access for persons with cognitive and physical challenges.

Dan Singleton

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