Suspicious wildfires in North Okanagan could have been intentionally set, RCMP warn

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Welcome sign in Westwold, B.C., where RCMP say 2 suspicious fires occurred on Monday. (andybremner.blogspot.com - image credit)
Welcome sign in Westwold, B.C., where RCMP say 2 suspicious fires occurred on Monday. (andybremner.blogspot.com - image credit)

RCMP in British Columbia's North Okanagan say they are "incredibly concerned" that someone may be intentionally trying to spark wildfires.

A statement from Vernon North Okanagan RCMP says officers are investigating "suspicious circumstances" surrounding two wildfires on Monday in the Westwold area, about 60 kilometres northwest of Vernon.

Const. Chris Terleski says Mounties are actively investigating the incident.

"After the destruction and devastation caused by wildfires last year, we appreciate and understand how terribly unsettling this is for residents," he said in the statement.

Westwold was one of several communities located between Vernon and Kamloops under evacuation orders last summer, due to the White Rock Lake wildfire that burned more than 300 square kilometres.

On Aug. 6, 2021, residents of more than 600 properties in Westwold and the neighbouring Monte Lake, Falkland and Cedar Hill areas were told to leave their homes immediately.

Kelly Kennedy/Facebook
Kelly Kennedy/Facebook

Police say they received reports that a person was lighting slash piles on fire in the same area that was charred by a major wildfire last year that eventually covered more than 550 square kilometres and destroyed nearly 80 properties.

The statement says the B.C. Wildfire Service responded quickly to the fires on separate forest service roads and contained both, preventing their spread.

A small blue pickup truck driven by a woman was reported to have been seen leaving the area of both fires, but an air- and-ground search by Mounties did not find the truck and police say the report is unconfirmed.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area is asked to contact RCMP.

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