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Vandalism follows fire at New Life Mission's Thrift Store
At 5 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, it was a call to police reporting a fire at Thrift City, the New Life Mission store downtown.
At 3 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24, it was a call to Stan Dueck, executive director of the organization that runs the store, that police had again been called to it.
This time, someone had broken the plate-glass window at the front of the store at 342 Seymour St. — and the cost to the agency went up a bit more as it had to immediately hire security to protect the premises.
The fire in the rear of the building on Monday, Sept. 23, has been deemed suspicious by Kamloops Fire Rescue, said chief fire-protection officer Dean Olstad, "due to the fact that we had a similar fire three or four weeks ago involving the same items on the building next door after business hours."
Olstad said there are no other explanations for the blaze, which has shut down the store that generates about $30,000 a month for the mission, and his department's findings have been given to Kamloops RCMP.
"There were no other explanations as to why the fire started. No equipment failure, electrical issues, heating elements, lightning. We are not investigating any further," he said.
Mission program manager Terry Butcher said there was little doubt the broken window was the result of someone throwing something through it, noting it was not fire-related.
The store had extensive smoke and water damage on Monday, but the bulk of the fire was kept at the rear of the store.
An insurance adjuster had reviewed the store on Monday, but Butcher said no decision has been provided on how much would be covered.
The double blow comes after a recent financial crisis that led to the mission closing the doors on its residential addiction-treatment program for women at the House of Ruth and putting the building up for sale.
Butcher said people have offered donations but, with the store closed, there is nowhere to store them.
Instead, he hopes people will help the agency provide its annual Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 15, an event that draws up to 150 people — most of them marginalized — for the meal.