North Shore residents alarmed by suspicious fires, vandalism
There was plenty of talk — and just as much concern — among residents along the North Shore about a pair of suspicious fires at two abandoned buildings and several incidents of vandalism that occurred during the early hours of May 6.
The incidents appear to be related, and covered a 30-kilometre stretch from Salmon Cove in the south to Job’s Cove in the north.
Up to Friday, May 17, police had not made any arrests.
On e w o m a n in Nor thern Bay, who asked not to be named, said she was alarmed by what she called a “rampage,” and added, “No more will my door be left unlocked.”
A male resident of Job’s Cove blamed what he called a drug problem flamed by unemployment and boredom, and said he worries about his own property.
“Yo u c ome in at night and you have to ask if you took the keys out of the ignition or if you locked the garage door,” the man stated. “We never had to do that before.”
“You come in at night and you have to ask if you took the keys out of the ignition or if you locked the garage door. We never had to do that before.”
— Local resident
Flattened by fire
The most dramatic incident occurred in Northern Bay, where the old Bide A While building, located adjacent to Northern Bay Sands park, was flattened by a fire that likely began sometime after 3 a.m. The building was once home to a business catering to young people, hosting teenage dances and serving burgers and fries. It was later a nightclub until it closed permanently about a decade ago. The building was considered by many to be an eyesore.
About eight kilometres away in Job’s Cove, the old Baccalieu Lanes building was also seriously damaged by fire, and was likely saved from total ruin by a timely response by the Old Perlican Volunteer Fire Department.
Firefighters noticed smoke rising from the rear of the building as they responded to the fire in Northern Bay, and managed to contain the fire to the rear wall and eaves, though a portion of the foundation was burned.
A resident who lives in the area said the rear of the building, which has not been occupied for about 15 years, was a popular hangout. The large wooden structure was constructed in the mid-1970s by the late Boyd Button, initially operated as a “Western Tire” outlet, and has changed ownership several times over the years.
The Baccalieu Lanes building is located on a largely uninhabited stretch of the highway, directly across the road from a museum and cafe operated by the Flambro Head Heritage Society.
An RCMP investigator at the scene of the fire in Job’s Cove could be seen removing a plastic container from the grounds near the rear of the building and placing it in his vehicle. When asked if the container may have contained some type of accelerant, the officer, who asked not to be named, said it would have to be tested.
However, he said it’s very likely that both fires were related.
Meanwhile, police believe three other incidents of vandalism are related. They include the smashing of a pickup truck window in Salmon Cove, and broken windows at the United Church in Western Bay and four cottages that are under construction in Ochre Pit Cove.
The owner of the cottages, James Beahm of Victoria, said the vandalism at his property occurred at about the same time the fires were reported.
When asked how he felt about the vandalism, Beahm replied: “We’ll get it fixed and keep on going.”
Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity early Monday morning to contact the RCMP detatchment in Harbour Grace,
The former Bide A While club in Northern Bay was levelled by fire during the early hours of May 6.
An RCMP investigator examines the scene of a fire at the old Baccalieu Lanes building in Job’s Cove on Monday, May 6.