29 wildfires in B.C. Interior were deliberately set, task force believes
Published Thursday, July 5, 2018 5:00PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, July 6, 2018 6:48PM PDT
Police in British Columbia's Interior region say they've been able to classify 29 wildfires from the last four years as acts of arson that are all connected.
Between July 2014 and September of last year, the fires scorched hundreds of hectares of land in communities across the province's Southern Interior, including Penticton, Oliver, Osoyoos, Summerland and Naramata.
"We believe that these fires were intentionally set," said Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau, adding that "there are similarities to these fires that definitely lead us to believe they're connected."
In one case, a July 2017 fire in Lake Country destroyed several homes.
That blaze left Blair and Joanne Croom's home heavily damaged. Their next door neighbours' house and seven others were also destroyed.
"I went running back into the house yelling, 'There's a fire. Let's get out,'" Blair said.
"No one had to tell us to evacuate," Joanne said. "We knew we had to move, get out, evacuate as soon as we could."
Now, the RCMP's Intentionally Set Wildfires Task Force is working to bring those responsible to justice.
"They're pursuing a number of investigative avenues and pursuing a variety of investigation techniques to find the person or persons responsible for this," Linteau said.
Under provincial law, those found responsible in court for starting a wildfire could be fined up to $1 million and be sentenced to one year in jail.
The task force was created in May in a bid to advance the investigations into the human-caused fires and is working closely with members of the BC Wildfire Service.
"The Task Force has the ability to focus on all related historical and future wildfires, regardless of jurisdictional and inter-agency boundaries, which have been caused by arson," Mounties said in a release.
Anyone with information about any of the fires listed below is asked to contact the task force's tip line at 1-855-685-8788 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
A map of the fires is also available on the RCMP's website.
- July 7, 2014, K50209, Naramata
- July 7, 2014, White Lake Rd, Penticton
- July 9, 2014, Richter Pass, Osoyoos
- July 15, 2014, Mt. Kobau, Oliver
- July 15, 2014, Apex Rd, Penticton
- July 17, 2014, Reservoir Rd / Landfill Rd, Penticton
- July 22, 2014, White Lake Rd, Okanagan Falls
- Aug. 11, 2014, Chute Lake Rd, Naramata
- Aug. 11, 2014, Green Mountain Rd, Penticton
- Aug. 13, 2014, White Lake Rd, Penticton
- Aug. 19, 2014, North Naramata Rd, Naramata
- Sept.15, 2014, Green Mountain Rd, Penticton
- July 2, 2015, Canyon View Rd, Summerland
- Aug. 7, 2015, Pampas Grass Way, Oliver
- Aug. 8, 2015, Spiller Rd, Penticton
- Aug. 11, 2015, Commonage Rd, Lake Country
- Aug. 11, 2015, Beaver Lake Rd, Lake Country
- Aug. 12, 2015, Gulch Rd, Naramata
- Aug. 14, 2015, White Lake Rd, Penticton
- April 9, 2016, Fairview-Cawston Rd, Cawston
- Aug. 17, 2016, Commonage Rd, Lake Country
- Aug. 17, 2016, Oyama Rd, Lake Country
- July 3, 2017, Pixie Beach, Lake Country
- July 15, 2017, Okanagan Centre Rd W, Lake Country
- Sept. 1, 2017, Westhills Rd, Penticton
- Sept. 1, 2017, Old Princeton Hwy, Summerland