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String of wildfires in British Columbia believed to be arson, BC Wildfire Service says


May 10, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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Investigators with the BC Wildfire Service and provincial natural resource officers have found evidence to suggest at least 10 separate wildfires in three distinct areas have been deliberately set.

Investigators in British Columbia have found evidence to suggest at least 10 separate wildfires have been deliberately set. Photo: BC Wildfire Service.

Extra conservation officers have been brought in to help with the investigation into the fires, which are believed to be connected, the Ministry of Environment said in a press release on Monday. Some property damage has occurred, but there have been no reports of injuries so far, although some fires continue to burn.

The British Columbia Conservation Officer Service is asking for the public’s help to solve the string of suspected wildfire arsons in the Peace region.

There are several wildfires of note in the region. The Beatton Airport Road wildfire, 45 kilometres north of Fort St. John, was estimated at 15,000 hectares in size as of Monday. The Siphon Creek wildfire, located 40 kilometres northeast of Fort St. John, was estimated at 58,630 hectares and had crossed the Alberta border. As of Monday, the fire, which includes 41,470 hectares in B.C. and 17,160 in Alberta, was 20% contained. An evacuation order is in effect related to both fires. The Carter fire, located 10 kilometres northwest of Hudson’s Hope, is an estimated 450 hectares and 50% contained; the Halfway River fire, 30 kilometres northeast of Hudson’s Hope, is an estimated 1,423 hectares and 25% contained.

The BC Wildfire Service said that, as of Saturday, it was responding to 55 wildfires throughout the Prince George Fire Centre, 49 of which were in the Peace region. Compared to the 10 year average, the Prince George Fire Centre has had nearly three times the amount of fires normally seen at this time of year with over seven times the amount of hectares burned, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said in a statement. “These incidents have been caused by people, with the majority due to open burning,” the statement said.

Also, on Friday, two incidents were reported related to the unauthorized use of unmanned aerial vehicles near active wildfires were reported. “If necessary, the BC Wildfire Service will work with police to locate drone operators violating these rules and suspend their operations,” the statement said.