WATCH: Fire crews in North Vancouver say an arsonist is at work. Randene Neill has more on why crews believe this is arson and what residents did to protect their property.
The District of North Vancouver Fire Department and North Vancouver RCMP are investigating at more than a dozen brush fires that were deliberately set along a trail that runs close to homes.
Assistant fire chief Mike Cairns said 10 fires were set along a one-kilometre stretch of the Hastings Creek Trail early Wednesday.
“Based on the number of fires, they certainly appear to be deliberately set,” he said.
Residents started calling 9-1-1 around 6 a.m. after they noticed a lot of smoke in the air. “They were fairly close to some homes that back along the lower part of the trail, about a couple hundred feet away,” said Cairns.
He added that the fires were deep-seated, leading investigators to believe they were set late Tuesday night. Some paper was also left at the scene of one of the fires.
Officials say three more fires were discovered Wednesday afternoon, about 200 metres south of the other brush fires.
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So far no suspects have been identified, but police say they’re aggressively pursuing whoever is responsible.
Until there’s an arrest, the RCMP say patrols will be increased. Meanwhile investigators are asking people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
“We are as concerned as the public in finding this person and preventing any further acts,” said Victor Penman, fire chief, District of North Vancouver Fire Services.
If residents see anything suspicious, they are asked to call report it immediately.
READ MORE: Complete coverage of wildfires burning in B.C.
There are currently 195 active fires burning in the province and 930 fires to date. There were 30 new fires in B.C. on Tuesday and 13 on Wednesday. Officials expect about 30 every day, on average, until conditions change. Crews have managed to keep the new fires under three to four hectares in size, which provincial information officer, Kevin Skrepnek, said is “definitely good news for us.”
On Wednesday night, an evacuation order was issued for 15 residences on the northwest side of Puntzi Lake. An evacuation alert was issued for the southwest shore and north shore of the lake.
Also on Wednesday, the Beaver Creek fire prompted the closure of Highway 97 in both directions from Prophet River to Fort Nelson. The fire broke out Sunday and is categorized as “very active.” It’s currently 300 hectares in size.
Eighteen fires are considered fires of note, with eight evacuation alerts or orders currently in effect.
Evacuation Orders currently exist in the following areas:
- Boulder Creek Wildfire, northwest of Pemberton Meadows
- Sechelt Mine fire, issued for Carlson Point, affecting 18 homes
- One home in Harrogate, north of Highway 95 near Brisco
- Puntzi Lake, northwest side
Evacuation Alerts exist in these areas:
- Tsulquate Creek Fire, northwest of Port Hardy
- Sitkum Creek Fire, north of Kootenay Lake, between Sitkum and Duhamel Creeks
- East of Lake Koocanusa, east of Baynes Lake and Highway 93
- Harrogate, north of Highway 95, between Harrogate and Brisco
- Petitot River fire, northeast of Fort Nelson
- Puntzi Lake, southwest shore and north shore of lake
-with files from Jon Azpiri and Catherine Urquhart