Cape Breton Regional Police believe smoke flares that were lit inside a Walmart and a high school were stolen from a commercial property in North Sydney, N.S.
Police have been investigating reports of smoke flares lit on Cape Breton’s Northside and say they received information that led them to the property in North Sydney.
Investigators found a large number of marine-use emergency flares in storage at the site. Police say they are making arrangements to have the flares removed and destroyed.
The discovery comes after smoke flares were lit inside a Walmart in North Sydney and a school in Sydney Mines, filling the buildings with a thick, orange smoke.
“It probably went on for five minutes,” says Grade 11 student Victor McGuigan. “You could see a window was nothing but orange, it was something else.”
Police and firefighters responded to Walmart around 4:30 p.m. Monday. The store was evacuated and remained closed for two days after the incident.
Police and firefighters were called to Memorial High School around 10:30 a.m. Thursday. No one was injured, but students and staff were evacuated from the school as a precaution.
Emergency crews searched the school and located a smoke signal canister underneath a stairwell in the building. Police say the smoke signal canister found at the school is similar to the one found inside Walmart.
Sydney Mines Fire Chief Charlie Howboldt says they could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
“It's very disturbing when situations like this happen at the schools. It's just mindless,” he says.
Police aren’t certain how many smoke flares were stolen from the property in North Sydney. It’s believed they were stolen from an abandoned building on the main road. Also located inside were some potentially deadly devices, including a flash bang.
“This type of flare potentially if it goes off and someone is handling it there could be loss of life, loss of limb,” says Staff Sgt. Paul Muise of Cape Breton Regional Police.
Police are unsure of how many may still be in the wrong hands.
“We do have video surveillance and we do have some suspects in mind because of the vehicle stop last night, so it's to continue with the investigation and obviously if anyone finds these flares, leave them where they're at and contact police,” says Muise.
When activated, police say the flares emit a high amount of heat that could cause a fire or serious injury, and they also produce a lot of smoke.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.