A shed fire in Mill Woods has destroyed hundreds of lawn signs being stored for Ward 4 City Council candidate and former MLA Dan Backs. Edmonton Fire and Rescue (EFR) estimated that the shed went up in flames around 10:00 pm on Thursday, September 23.
From the Edmonton Sun (published at 4:28pm on Friday, September 24):
The fire is not considered suspicious — investigators think a discarded cigarette may be to blame.
“There is no evidence found to conclude this was arson,” said EFR spokesman Corwin Odland. “Smoking materials were found around the shed so it’s possible it was accidently set by a cigarette.”
Without much information available to him at the time, Mr. Backs posted a news release on his website at 1:00am on Friday, September 24 titled “Probable Arson Destroys Campaign Signs.” The news release pre-empted and contradicted the EFR spokesperson by claiming that the fire was probably intentionally set and that the case had been referred to Police arson investigators:
In consultation with the Edmonton Fire Department, Dan Backs was informed that this matter has been referred to Edmonton Police Department arson investigators.
There was no source of ignition, electrical or otherwise, and according to discussions with fire department representatives, it had to have been set.
This comes after Dan’s main opponent, incumbent Councillor Ed Gibbons lamented in the Edmonton Journal on September 22, that Dan Backs’ sign campaign was an indication that his campaign was in trouble. ‘I’m not sure that we will ever prove who actually did this’, said Backs. ‘That shed has stood for seventeen years – and my friend has lived in that house for thirty-four years, and there has never been any trouble. This destruction of my signs suddenly places my campaign at a great disadvantage, especially as we were planning to transfer many of them to my new campaign headquarters on Friday.
Since the EFR spokesperson announced that the fire is not considered suspicious, no update has been posted on Mr. Backs’ website correcting his claims of arson or apologizing for his suggestion that Councillor Gibbons’ could be connected to the fire.