COURTENAY, B.C- A dozen dumpster fires in Courtenay have been deemed suspicious by the local fire department.

According to Kurt MacDonald, the Deputy Fire Chief of the Courtenay Fire Department, the fires have been occurring since June throughout the city, without a discernible pattern. He said the department had noted the “dramatic increase”, and was concerned about the spike.

“We are working in conjunction with the RCMP to try to determine what exactly is going on, and who are the people responsible for lighting the dumpsters on fire,” said MacDonald.

As for whether or not the string of fires were related to the torched vehicle at the Seeco Automotive yard on Tuesday night, MacDonald said it was “hard to say”.

The south exterior wall of Seeco Automotive is scorched after a vehicle fire on the night of Jan.9, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

“Generally, when people are involved in fire-lighting behavior, things do tend to escalate,” said MacDonald.

“It’s still premature at this time to try to draw a correlation between that fire and the dumpsters we’ve been having.”

MacDonald stated there have been no issues with vehicle fires over the last six months, with everything “status-quo”. However, he did say that residents should be concerned.

“We would appreciate any help or assistance that the public has,” said MacDonald.

“If they see people or any suspicious activity, definitely notify the RCMP and get it looked into.  People just need to be aware that this is happening.”

MacDonald indicated that behaviors to watch would be people in places they shouldn’t be, gathering near dumpsters, or running away from dumpster fires. He advised for any witnesses of such behavior to get clothing descriptions, if possible.

Overall, he didn’t want to start a panic.

“We want people to be aware,” said MacDonald.

“We don’t want anybody to be alarmed though, or overly concerned with it. It’s something we’re looking into, and hopefully, we can rectify (it).”