Kamloops man who lit grassfire on Columbia Street handed 60-day jail sentence

·2 min read

A man who lit a fire along Columbia Street in August during tinder dry conditions as multiple wildfires burned near town has been sentenced to spend 60 days behind bars.

Wyatt Alcide Proulx, 32, of Kamloops, pleaded guilty to one count of mischief for lighting a grassfire off Columbia Street between the curb and grass around the intersection with Sahali Terrace.

Court heard Proulx lit the grass on fire about 25 metres away from a building on Aug. 12 at about 9 p.m., which was noticed by a pair of passersby, one of whom extinguished the blaze using water from a bottle. Though the fire was small, Kamloops Fire Rescue (KFR) attended to ensure it stayed out.

A witness, who had pulled over to tend to the fire, pointed the man out to an off-duty police officer who then contacted other police and caught up to the suspect and told him he was under arrest.

Proulx was arrested a short distance away near First Avenue where he was found to be in possession of a pair of lighters. He’s been in custody since.

Justice Roy Dickey handed Proulx a 60-day jail sentence, siding with Crown prosecutor Laura Drake over the recommendation from defence counsel John Gustafson who sought 40 days.

Drake noted how dry it has been this summer and that anyone should have known the danger lighting a fire would pose.

Proulx was credited 41 days as per the 1.5 day credit for time served pre-trial custody, leaving him with another 19 days left to serve.

Dickey also handed Proulx 14 months probation, banning him from possessing any matches or lighters during next year’s fire season. He is limited to possessing just one lighter for personal use between Oct. 1 and April 30. He is banned from using one from May through September 2022.

A charge of obstructing a police officer was stayed by the court.

The fire was the third in as many days along Columbia Street. The day prior (Aug. 11) KFR attended a fire burning in grass between two retaining walls on the south side of the street, just west of Lorna Bella Street and east of Sahali Terrace.

Police at the time asked the public for information saying they had identified a suspect connected to that fire and another that occurred about a half hour earlier further east around the 300-block of Columbia Street.

According to Const. Crystal Evelyn there has been no new developments in that investigation.

Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week

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