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Residents, business owners warned to take precautions against alleged arsonist

The Vernon Fire Department and police continue to investigate a series of suspicious fires, including this torched boat on 48 Avenue.
Image Credit: Vernon Fire and Rescue Services
May 29, 2014 - 3:14 PM

"CLEAN UP ANY PALLETS, DON'T HAVE THEM OUT AND AVAILABLE"

VERNON - While authorities have determined at least some suspicious fires are not connected to a string of suspected arsons, investigators believe an arsonist is still on the loose in the city.

Deputy fire chief Lawrie Skolrood, one of the lead investigators, says out of 11 suspicious fires, a couple have been deemed unrelated to the rash of suspected arsons. 

So far, targets have been vacant buildings, a porta-potty, pallets, a boat, vehicles and dumpsters. Two new fires were added to the list Thursday morning. They involved a paper and pallet fire in the alley behind A.J.’s Pets on 31 Avenue around 2:40 a.m. and another on 30 Avenue with a pile of cardboard and paper lit on fire.

“The only way those things can be put on fire is by somebody lighting them,” Skolrood says. “It (31 Avenue fire) is concerning because it was right next to old pallets and an old building. If it wasn’t noticed by a passing taxi cab we could have had a bigger situation to deal with.”

He describes the arsons as crimes of opportunity where the suspect notices something in the environment that could be lit on fire.

“What we’re encouraging people to do is to not put recycling out early, clean up any pallets behind businesses, don’t have them out and available,” Skolrood says.

In most cases, Skolrood says there has been no ignition source at the crime scene, meaning the suspect, or suspects, are taking the source with them.

“It points to an open flame mechanism like a lighter being used,” Skolrood says.

So far, the city has been lucky the fires haven’t resulted in major losses of property, or worse, loss of life, Skolrood says. But RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk says the arsons appear to be escalating.

“What bothers us is how much worse is it going to get before we can apprehend this person?” Skolrood says.

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

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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