Officers are ramping up patrols in the Westmount area and investigators are searching for patterns following a fourth suspicious playground fire.

Fire crews were called to St. Jude Elementary School on Viscount Road at 4:54 a.m. Thursday to reports of a fire.

“This morning’s fire was minor,” says District Chief Jim Stockdale.

“There was a very small dollar loss, estimated at about $200. Compared to the other two we’ve had on our shift, this is minor, but it is under investigation and is suspected as arson.”

Woodchips and the slide on the playground were damaged in this case. Stockdale says an accelerant was present at the scene.

London Police Chief John Pare tells AM980 crime analysts are working to identify patterns or trends that are based on something in the past or recently.

“Most of the fires have been happening between 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that pattern would continue if we continue to see these fires. But we’re just asking officers to be more vigilant in their patrols of as they’re going through the neighbourhoods and hopefully identify anyone that might be out and about that we’re not sure why they’re there and stop and speak to them about their reasons.”

Chief Pare is also calling on Londoners to help keep watch.

“Many of these parks are surrounded by residents. We just ask that they be just as vigilant as we are and if they notice something suspicious or they notice people hanging around in the parks. They need to contact police so we can investigate.”

This latest case is the fourth in less than two months, and the second time St.Jude has been hit.

Last Wednesday, the playground in nearby Jesse Davidson Park was torched in a suspected arson case. Fire crews were called to a fire at that playground near Viscount Rd. and Andover Dr. at around 4 a.m. There was $25,000 damage in that blaze.

The same fire crew responded to a playground fire behind Arthur Ford Public School on Viscount Rd just over one month ago on July 12th. It appears as if vandals set fire to the playground area, melting a slide and several other pieces of plastic equipment. There was $50,000 damage reported in that fire and the playground has since been removed.

London Police also confirmed last week that some playground equipment at St.Jude Elementary School was damaged in an early morning fire on July 31st.

It’s unclear if the same individuals are responsible for all four cases, but no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact London Police at 519-661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


Source: Suspected Fire Bug Torches Fourth Playground in Westmount Area | (CFPL AM) AM 980