Kitchener business owner reeling after intentional fire scorches building
A business owner in Kitchener says he’s feeling defeated after his business caught fire again early Sunday morning.
“[It’s] not good. It's been stressful for everybody,” Surajit Biswas said, standing outside the charred S B Leather Furniture building on Madison Avenue.
Biswas has owned and operated the business since 1988.
“A lot of history -- good and bad,” said Biswas.
The “bad” is referring to a previous fire that took out a portion of his business over two decades ago. In 2002, a storage building behind the main facility was destroyed.
Fast forward to Sunday around 1 a.m., emergency services responded to a fire on the same property. This time, at the rear of the main building.
Waterloo regional police say the fire is considered suspicious, with the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) called in to assist with the investigation.
After investigators spent several hours on scene Sunday, police tell CTV News they now have reason to believe the fire was intentionally set.
No injuries have been reported.
While the fire Sunday morning was not as significant as the last, Biswas is left wondering why his business was targeted.
“[It’s] not good for us and for the community,” Biswas said.
Biswas says fire crews informed him early damage estimates could vary once investigators can get inside.
“The fire department estimated structure-wise, maybe $300,000, and maybe inside, another $300,000 to $400,000,” he said.
He’s more so concerned about his employees, rather than the cost of repairs.
“A lot of people work here. Their lives are also critical to us so it's bad for everybody,” Biswas said.
According to police data, they have responded to 268 fires so far this year, with 39 deemed suspicious. For the same time frame in 2022, Waterloo regional police say they responded to 277 fires, with 36 classified as suspicious.
“[Investigators] will look at anything from source of ignition, cause of the fire, where the fire was located, any individuals that were observed in the area at the time,” said WRPS Const. Melissa Quarrie.
As investigators continue to piece together what happened, Biswas just hopes it's the last time he has to pick up the literal pieces of his business.