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Suspicious fires in Vernon now at 77 in past two years

The Vernon Fire Department was called to the scene of a burning boat on 48 Avenue in the summer of 2014, one of numerous suspicious fires that year.
Image Credit: Vernon Fire and Rescue Services
May 13, 2016 - 5:27 PM

VERNON - If you paid attention to the news during the past couple of years, you probably know there have been quite a few suspicious fires, including a particularly rampant rash of arsons in the summer of 2014.

What you might not have known, if an RCMP summary of arson investigations hadn’t been filed during a court case this week, is there were a whopping 77 suspicious fires between January 2014 and January 2016.

That number was revealed as part of a sentence hearing on just one of the fires.

By June of 2014, we’d heard about 14 suspected arsons. By July of 2014, that number had grown to a reported 21.

After the summer of 2014, which saw boats, vehicles, dumpsters and the Kin Race Track grandstands set ablaze, the pattern slowed for a while only to resurface periodically.

Deputy Vernon fire chief Lawrie Skolrood says the summer of 2014 was one of the worst arson sprees he can remember in the city.

“We had 40 in a little over two months,” Skolrood says. “There was one every couple of days.”

The last we heard from the Vernon RCMP, the bulk of the arsons remain unsolved, and under investigation. Several arrests were made in the past couple of years for specific arsons, including one outside AJ’s Pets and Things, one at a townhouse, and one in an apartment building, but none for the overwhelming number of suspicious fires.

Skolrood says suspicious fires seem to flare up every now and again in the city. Already, there have been a few suspicious fires this year.

“It seems that Vernon has a fair amount of arson fires,” Skolrood says. “For the size of the city, it seems a little larger of an amount than you would expect.”

Why? That’s hard to say.

“You never know what it’s connected to. Our arsonist in 2014 seemed to be all over the place. It’s really hard to determine what exactly spurs some of this. It’s something we’re definitely looking to try and find out around Vernon if in fact it continues. It’s something we’re working on all the time but haven’t been able to determine what’s causing it and who’s causing it,” he says.

Efforts to reach the RCMP for an update on the arson investigations have been unsuccessful.


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