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Video: Suspicious fire destroys Penticton Salvation Army truck

Now the Salvation Army is down to 1 truck which will impact service at a time when need is high
The Penticton Salvation Army truck appears to be set on fire Wednesday night. (Denairo Raposo)

The Penticton Salvation Army is without one of its vital services after one of its two trucks was set on fire Wednesday night.

Salvation Army Major Paul Trickett said they were called to the Salvation Army on South Main Street at 10 p.m.

“We believe it was a homeless person trying to keep themselves warm and things got out of control. We don’t think it was malicious. It’s the reality of the situation in Penticton with so many living on the streets,” said Trickett. “My heart goes out to the community, because I know this is going to affect our service.”

Penticton Fire managed to put out the blaze but the transport truck was damaged beyond repair and the neighbouring building also suffered fire damage with some windows being cracked.

Now the Salvation Army is down to one truck. It’s a large loss at any time, but particularly as the winter season approaches with key events like food drives and the Teddy Bear Toss coming that rely on vehicle space.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and RCMP are collecting witness statements.

The Salvation Army’s annual kettle campaign kicks off on Nov. 14, and the hope is that the community rallies around to support them.

“That’s going to be vital this year, even more so with the cost of vehicles this year,” said Trickett. “Food banks are getting hurt all across Canada, and we’re no different than anyone else. Our tagline is giving hope today, and the community has to help us give hope.”

The remains of several storage bins and the Salvation Army’s truck after a late night fire in Penticton on Oct. 26. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
The remains of several storage bins and the Salvation Army’s truck after a late night fire in Penticton on Oct. 26. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

In Penticton, the Salvation Army is seeing high demand, with upwards of 200 grab-and-go bags of food distributed a day along with up to 20 to 30 family hampers. They are also busy working with over a dozen other agencies in the region such as SOWINS.

“We’ll adapt and we’ll make it work. We had debated whether even to open up today, but we can’t shut down,” said Trickett. “It’s just impossible with the need that we’re seeing. So yeah, my heart just goes out to the people that actually started the fire too.”

The loss of the truck is also compounded by the loss of about eight fruit bins that the Salvation Army owned, which they used for stacking food and other goods. That is another $500 each that will need to be replaced.

“If we can get through COVID, we can get through a recession, we can get through anything,” said Trickett.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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