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Arson, 'targeted attack on emergency services vehicles' under investigation in Smithers, B.C.


A major investigation is underway after a fiery incident in the parking lot of a Smithers, B.C., hotel that police say may be a "targeted attack."

Video shared on social media shows flames ripping through several vehicles overnight, including police cruisers and government work vehicles. The fire didn't damage the hotel, but officials said eight cars were either partially or completely destroyed, including four RCMP vehicles and one B.C. Ambulance.

"Thankfully no one was hurt in the fire, which is the most important thing," said Cpl. Madonna Saunderson in a news release. "This appears to be a targeted attack on emergency services vehicles. Preliminary investigation indicates this is an arson and we are asking for the public's assistance in providing information so that the person, or persons involved may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Gladys Atrill, Smithers' mayor, said on social media the incident was "very troubling."

"I am grateful there were no injuries," Atrill said.

"I have also spoken to the management of the Sunshine Inn and was informed that while staff and guests (are) rattled, all are doing fine."

At the B.C. Legislature, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth condemned what happened as "reprehensible and disgraceful," saying it is his hope that those responsible will be caught and prosecuted.

"People could have been hurt and injured," he added.

An image of a burned out RCMP vehicle at the scene clearly shows the letters "CIRG 07" on the rear of the SUV.

CTV News asked Saunderson whether the CIRG on the RCMP vehicle means it belongs to the Community-Industry Response Group, a B.C. RCMP team "created in 2017 to provide strategic oversight addressing energy industry incidents and related public order, national security and crime issues."

Saunderson declined to answer the question, saying: "I have no further information, outside the release, at this time."

The lack of confirmation from RCMP has not stopped some B.C. politicians from connecting Wednesday's suspect arson to the ongoing disagreement between the operators of the under-construction Coastal GasLink pipeline and Indigenous and environmental activists in the area.

BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon wrote on Twitter that "the continued violence and harassment of resource-dependent communities has to stop and there must be consequences for those defying law and order and endangering the lives of British Columbians." 

Liberal MLA Ellis Ross, who represents Skeena in the provincial legislature, went a step further, likening Wednesday's incident to an attack on a Coastal GasLink worksite that happened in February

"Nothing was done when pipeline workers were terrorized outside of Houston, B.C., and now the violence has migrated inside the town of Smithers," he wrote in a tweet of his own

The RCMP has not indicated that there is any link between Coastal GasLink and Wednesday's arson.

Nevertheless, TC Energy – the company that owns the pipeline – issued a statement on the latest incident, saying it is thankful that no one was injured and that "these types of attacks … have no place in Canada."

"Our top priority remains the safety of those in the area, including our workforce, contractors, and Indigenous and local community members," the company said. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have enhanced security measures at our worksites in the area." 

Police said they're still reviewing evidence and are seeking dash-cam video from people who travelled between Houston and Smithers or between Smithers and New Hazelton between the hours of 1 and 6 a.m. Wednesday. Anyone with information or video is asked to call Smithers RCMP at 250-847-3233. Top Stories


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