Smouldering diapers were no joke to Walmart Canada, which reports substantial losses in business and merchandise after a fire that was set in its Nanaimo store last month.
Police and firefighters were called to the Walmart at Woodgrove Centre the afternoon of Feb. 22. The fire, set in a box of diapers, was small and had been extinguished by employees by the time firefighters arrived, but damage from fire extinguisher chemicals and smoke contamination forced the store’s closure.
“The store was closed for five days as we carried out the necessary clean-up and repairs resulting from the arson, a significant financial and product loss,” said Walmart Canada in a written statement to the News Bulletin this week. “Tens of thousands of items, including food, have been destroyed due to the damage. In this case, given the fire was set in our baby area, the items required to be destroyed also included baby essentials like infant formula, baby food and diapering items.”
Walmart went on to say the fire is being investigated “as a criminal act of arson that unfortunately and unfairly impacts our customers, associates and the local community who rely on the store. Setting a fire in a public setting with hundreds of people inside is shocking, dangerous and shameful.”
The corporation extended its thanks to all first responders who attended the fire and said it worked with local officials to ensure the store was safe and brought back to “standards our customers expect and deserve.” Walmart said it is co-operating with the police investigation.
“We will do everything we can to ensure the arsonist is identified and held accountable, including by assessing our legal options to seek compensation from the arsonist for the damages caused by this act,” the statement noted.
Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, said the police investigation is ongoing.
“We’re moving forward with identifying a person of interest,” he said. “At this time we do not have any concrete suspect involved with the fire. We know that there are individuals who are aware and have information and we need to speak to them.”
Anyone with information about the fire or the person who set it is asked to contact the Nanaimo RCMP detachment non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file No. 2023-6199.