Arsonist suspected to be at large in the community

Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo Reporter

CHETWYND – A series of suspicious fires in the Chetwynd area over the weekend have led the local fire department to believe there is a fire-setter at large in the community.

Fire chief Leo Sabulsky says there has been a definite pattern over the last four years where numerous fires have been set along Highway 29 south and the old Hart Highway.

“These are not isolated fire calls,” Sabulsky says, “they are fire calls in a series.”

Fire crews were able to detect three separate areas where a fire appears to have been intentionally set along the Old Hart Wabi Road on Friday evening.

“It has happened every spring for about four years so,” Sabulsky explained. “It’s either a person who is riding a quad or walking and lighting the fires, it could be a fire-setter who gets his jollies out of it or it could just be someone extremely careless. But I suspect that it’s somebody that is a fire-setter that sort of enjoys the fire department coming and putting out these fires.”

The potential for the most recent fires to cause property damage was very low, he says, as they were set away from houses in grassy areas where lots of combustible material has had a chance to dry out over the course of the spring weather.

But, Sabulsky was quick to remind residents that in certain conditions, fires like those set over the weekend could potentially become a greater threat. “This spring we went from winter to summer overnight so we went from a low fire season to extreme fire rating in 24 hours,” Sabulsky said.

A fire over the weekend behind the Braemar Arms apartment complex is not suspected to be in the same pattern of intentionally set fires.

“The Braemar Arms building doesn’t follow any pattern at all,” he clarified. “It was probably a campfire that was left by people that were partying and had nothing to do with the others.

“This year, we’ve had more than the usual number of fires and the three fires that we’ve had along Highway 29 south were set, the others were not set purposely they were accidental lights. But the ones on Highway 29 appear to be set by somebody walking through or on a quad.”

In a release to the media Sunday evening, the Chetwynd fire department urged residents to be on the look out for any suspicious activities observed in their neighborhood.

“Watch for a license plate number if possible, and if a quad is involved, try to provide a description of the driver and the make and model of the unit,” the release states. “Please take action immediately and call 911, especially in these drying, volatile conditions.”