Two acts of vandalism earlier in the week escalated to a successful arson attempt around 4 a.m. Friday at a Penticton autobody shop that’s now the scene of a police investigation.
Ryan Wuthe, operations manager at Boyd Autbody and Glass, said someone broke into the Carmi Avenue shop through the front door early Friday morning and set fire to a 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, one of 12 cars parked inside the garage.
“Fortunately, it was only one car,” he said, adding, though, that the rest of the customer vehicles in the facility suffered smoke damage, as did the shop itself.
Seven employees work at Boyd and Wuthe expects they’ll be getting several unplanned days off while the investigation continues and damage is repaired for the third time this week.
Someone lit off fireworks inside the shop on Monday, he said, then visited again Wednesday and smashed a window.
Wuthe believes the latest incident “was the same thing,” and that a disgruntled customer or former employee may be to blame.
“That’s what everybody thinks,” he said, adding that since he started working at the shop in February, he’s unaware of anyone who would be angry enough to carry out such acts.
Penticton RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rick Dellebuur suggested another possibility.
“We’re tending to think it was perhaps directed at a customer’s vehicle that happened to be there,” he said, adding Mounties haven’t ruled out an angry ex-employee or customer.
Dellebuur confirmed police believe Friday’s fire is related to events earlier in the week and have taken over the arson investigation.
Chief Wayne Williams of the Penticton Fire Department said his personnel called for backup immediately upon arrival at the scene, where they noticed heavy smoke pouring out of the shop.
“Crews did a great job getting in and keeping the fire to one corner of the building,” he said.
“With the type of paint and the type of compressed cylinders — gas cylinders — they would have on site for that business, crews did a very good job keeping it contained. It could have been a lot worse.”