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Edmonton non-profit that supports abused children temporarily closes after break-in, suspected arson – Edmonton

The Zebra Child and Youth Advocacy Centre has temporarily closed its doors in downtown Edmonton after experiencing a break-in and fire on Tuesday.

The non-profit organization, which works with children who have experienced abuse, announced the temporary closure on Wednesday and said it hopes to be operational again on Monday.

In a news release, the Zebra Child and Youth Advocacy Centre said it has been told police are investigating after someone allegedly broke into its space at 109th Street and Jasper Avenue, made their way to the top floor of the building and started a fire before leaving.

The Edmonton Police Service said it was called to the scene to help firefighters at about 6 a.m.

“The incident has since been determined to be an arson,” an EPS spokesperson said. “Investigators believe the fire, which caused significant damage to the building, including the Zebra Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, was set on the 13th floor of the high-rise.

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“The file remains under investigation at this time. Anyone with information about this arson is encouraged to contact police.”

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services told Global News that firefighters were first called about reports of smoke at the centre at 5:38 am on Tuesday.

“Four units were dispatched with the first unit arriving on scene at 5:42 a.m.,” an EFRS spokesperson said. “Crews arrived to find the fire out and helped ventilate the area.”

At 9 a.m., smoke was once again called to the building for reports of smoke. Firefighters returned to the scene three minutes later and cleared the scene at 10:42 a.m.

EFRS did not report any injuries and did not disclose further details about a possible cause or estimated damage.

“While the fire itself damaged Zebra Centre storage located on the top floor, the resulting water and smoke damage has required the Zebra Centre to close while restoration is underway,” the non-profit said.

“The Zebra Centre stored many supplies to support kids on the 13th floor of our building, where the fire was, and these items are not safe to be used. Therefore we must rebuild our supply of support items.”

Until the centre can be reopened, people who work with the organization are being asked to work from several temporary locations elsewhere in the city “to maintain supports for children and youth who have experienced abuse.”

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The Zebra Centre said it is currently hoping to receive monetary donations to purchase items like backpacks, cuddly toys, quilts, clothes, snacks and toiletries “that provide comfort to children and youth who come to the Zebra Centre.”

“Unfortunately, due to restoration activities, we are not in a position to collect or store the donation of in-kind items. Monetary donations will be used to purchase items to rebuild our supply of soft comforts.”

Donations can be made online here.

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