Young offender arrested, charges pending

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There’s a lot of optimism some activities can resume at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill, which has been shut down until further notice after someone lit a garbage can on fire in the men's washroom.

SPRINGHILL – An arrest has been made following Wednesday’s fire at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre but it’s uncertain when things can get back to normal.

The fire broke out at 5:55 p.m. in the upstairs men’s washroom after at least one individual lit a garbage can on fire, Springhill’s Chief Administrative Officer Don Tabor said.  By the time the fire was noticed, smoke was too thick to extinguish the fire and the Springhill Fire Dept was brought to the scene to contain the fire while people were being evacuated.

“The fire itself was limited to just the washroom but the water and smoke damage is throughout the building,” Tabor said. “You can imagine the amount of smoke the plastic garbage cans make. It’s throughout the whole building. You can claw it off the walls.”

Springhill police arrested a young offender in relation to the fire shortly after the fire was extinguished, acting-police chief Ken Matthews reported Thursday afternoon.

“A young offender was apprehended and arrested and charges of arson as well as mischief causing damage in excess of $5,000 are pending,” Matthews said. “It was a very timely arrest; within a few hours of the incident.”

It’s unclear if the community centre will make as quick of a return as authorities made the arrest, however. All activities are currently suspended at the community centre, including the walking track and Friday night’s Jr. B hockey game between the Cumberland County Blues and the Antigonish Bulldogs.

“The canteen suffered a lot of damage and we’re starting to see some seepage in other areas of the building,” Tabor said. “We won’t know how bad it is in between the floor and walls until the insurance adjuster gives us their report but it’s the insurer’s goal to get us up and running in a couple of days.”

While the fire and water damaged was limited to a remote area of the building, Leisure Services Director Jonathan Darnbraugh said activities won't resume until they know the air quality is safe.

“It’s all about the ventilation system at this point and the air quality,” Darnbraugh said. “Certain areas might not be connected to the same ventilation as others so they could be up and running again soon.”

In the interim the list of cancellations stemming from the suspected arson are mounting. Minor hockey, Can Skate, the Teen Centre and French classes have been cancelled until further notice. Two key fundraisers – the Guy Brown Memorial Banquet and an Diamond Dinner to support the Cumberland County Blues – are tentatively on hold but there’s a lot of optimism the insurer will give the green-light for both to take place this weekend, Tabor said. 

Organizations: Springhill Fire Dept, Cumberland County Blues, Leisure Services Teen Centre

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