Fires at three Walmart locations in Kitchener-Waterloo now being investigated as arson
KITCHENER -- The Waterloo Regional Police Service is investigating three overnight fires that happened at Walmart locations in Kitchener and Waterloo.
Police had said that the fires were considered suspicious and, by Wednesday morning, had announced they were investigating the fires as arson.
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The first fire happened at around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Sunrise Centre Walmart near Ottawa Street and Fischer-Hallman Road in Kitchener.
Employees at the Sunrise Centre location told CTV News they saw toilet paper on fire inside the Walmart before they were told to go outside.
The Kitchener Fire Department said a paper product was used to start the fire, and police confirmed Wednesday morning that all three fires were started in the toilet paper and paper towel sections of the stores.
The next call came in at 9:55 p.m. for a fire at the Walmart in the Stanley Park Mall in Kitchener.
A third fire call came in at around 10:20 p.m. and the Bridgeport Plaza in Waterloo.
Fire officials say no one was hurt in any of the fires.
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed that all employees and customers were safe.
"The stores are currently closed as we carry out the necessary clean-up and repairs," the spokesperson said. "The stores will re-open as soon as possible while we work with officials to ensure the stores are safe and up to the standards our customers expect and deserve."
The spokesperson also said the company will support associates while the stores are closed.
"They will be paid for their scheduled shifts and will be offered the opportunity to work in neighbouring stores to support the community as customers turn to these stores for their local needs," an emailed statement said in part.
Both the Kitchener Fire Department and the Waterloo Fire Department say the early damage estimate is set around $4 million per location.
They say that, due to bad smoke damage throughout the stores, all the product at each store could be considered a complete loss.
Fire officials say it will take further investigation today to determine the exact cost.
Some customers came to shop at the Walmarts on Wednesday morning, not knowing they were closed due to the fires.
"It's just terrible," said Salvatore D'Agostino. "As a community, we should be coming together and that's not really cool whoever did that."
"It's just weird, I don't know why someone would do that," Tate Horsfall said.
Guelph police confirm they were asked to warn the Walmarts in Guelph about the situation in Kitchener and Waterloo.
The Stanley Park Walmart at River Road East and Ottawa Street North had a cleanup crew on hand on Wednesday cleaning water out of the store.
Workers said they don't know how long the job will take, but expect they'll be back on Thursday.
All three locations are closed to customers. The Bridgeport location had a large section of the parking lot blocked and a security guard on hand to let customers know they weren't able to go shopping.
It was a similar situation at the location at Sunrise Centre.
It appears there is still work to be done at all three locations.