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Concern arises over rash of suspicious Vernon grass fires

The Vernon Fire Department battled a grass fire on Alexis Park Drive Tuesday, June 23.
Image Credit: Vernon Fire and Rescue Services
June 24, 2015 - 8:30 AM

VERNON - A pattern of suspicious brush fires in Vernon has the fire department on edge as the region heads into scorching temperatures this week.

Since June 11, crews responded to four grass fires in the city, two in Becker Park June 11 and June 12, one in Jubilee Park June 22, and the fourth on Alexis Park Drive June 23. The fires all happened around 5 a.m., and the trend is concerning to deputy fire chief Lawrie Skolrood.

“They’re suspicious because they’re obviously human set,” Skolrood says. “Fires don’t just sort of spontaneously start first thing in the morning (when) we usually have cooler temperatures and higher humidity.”

So far, the fires haven’t had the chance to spread out of control, thanks to the quick work of the Vernon fire department, but there’s concern about the trend evolving into a bigger incident.

“Through the next couple of days as we move into extremely hot weather, of course the fire danger rating is going to climb — it’s not going to take much to ignite these fires,” Skolrood says.

Add the proximity of Vernon’s parks, where the majority of the fires have started, to residential neighbourhoods and the dry grass, brush and vegetation they contain, and the pattern becomes particularly serious, Skolrood says.

He can’t say if the fires are connected, or if they’re related to a series of arsons last year, but both the fire department and RCMP are investigating.

“Are they vandals, is it premeditated, or is there some kind of trend? This is something we’re trying to determine,” he says.

He’s also reminding the public to take precautions disposing cigarettes, lighting fires, or doing anything else that could spark a fire.

“What you might consider small in regards to fire risk can turn into a larger fire in a short period of time when the weather is like this and the environment is conducive to fire,” Skolrood says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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