Arrests made in one Vernon suspicious fire

Good news: two people have been arrested in connection with one of the suspicious fires in Vernon over the past few weeks.

Bad news: it’s the only case solved so far, and the suspicious fires continued after the arrests, spreading to the Township of Spallumcheen.

Police received help on the fire reported in the alley in the 3200 block of 31st Street on May 29 at 2:40 a.m. through video evidence from nearby businesses.

“Officers did some good follow-up work and were able to identify and arrest two suspects in relation to that particular arson file,” said Vernon RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.

Two suspects, both Vernon men, aged 24 and 30, were arrested Friday night without incident.

The pair were released on conditions and promises to appear in court on June 26 to face the possibility of arson or mischief charges, which will be determined by Crown counsel.

Molendyk said the investigation revealed that the pair were only linked to that particular case.

Police, he said, have had some dealings with the individuals but when asked if the men were known to police, Molendyk said “no.”

The next night, Saturday, at about 10:40 p.m., emergency personnel were called to a report of a boat on fire in a compound in the 100 block of L&A Cross Road in Spallumcheen.

“The fire was extinguished by the Armstrong Spallumchen fire department and at this time it would appear to be suspicious in nature,” said Molendyk.

One insured pleasure boat was completely involved and destroyed, and a second boat nearby sustained some heat damage.

There are no damage estimates at this time.

Officers are looking into this fire as part of the ongoing suspicious fires in the area lately as Molendyk said there was no ignition source for the boat to catch fire.

Of concern to police and emergency personnel is this was the first suspicious fire reported outside of Greater Vernon.

“Absolutely it worries us,” said Molendyk.

There are 13 such suspicious fires under investigations. Two boats, two vacant buildings, a motorhome, a vehicle, a port-a-potty, railway ties and pallets, along with trash, have been set ablaze.

“We don’t know if it’s one or more individuals,” said Molendyk. “Sometimes what happens in these types of cases is other people, copycats with the publicity, get involved. It’s concerning for us.”

All of the fires have taken place at night or in the early morning hours. Molendyk said no accelerant has been found at any of the suspicious fires.

Finding the person or persons responsible has become a top priority for the detachment.

“We have allocated some of our resources, and we’re looking at resources from outside,” said Molendyk. “We have specialized units being deployed, Citizens On Patrol are being asked to patrol areas they normally wouldn’t patrol, and we’re asking for expertise from outside agencies.

“We’re using all the resources within the detachment so we can bring this to an end.”


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