Northumberland OPP say a series of 15 fires, set Monday afternoon along Highway 401 west of Port Hope, was deliberately lit.
“It is arson at this point,” said Northumberland OPP Sgt. Mark Collins on Monday.
Before 3 p.m., Port Hope firefighters were called to the eastbound lanes at Townline Road near the Durham border for a fire. Firefighters quickly discovered a series of fires were burning, extending to the Toronto Road exit near Port Hope.
Firefighters from Hamilton Township were also called to assist. One lane of the highway was closed as crews spent more than an hour getting the blazes under control. A nearby construction crew also assisted firefighters.
Witnesses told police a black pickup truck was seen along the highway making stops. Smoke was seen coming from the scenes. At least six police units and two police helicopters were searching for a suspect vehicle, but were unsuccessful, Collins said.
“At this point we believe there were approximately 15 deliberately set fires,” Collins said. “It’s too clear-cut to be random.”
Collins noted there was one minor accident involving a motorcycle. One firefighter also suffered heat exhaustion.
The 26-year-veteran said the long distance of the fires leads investigators to believe this was a case of arson.
“I’ve never seen anyone do something so callous and deliberate that could have such huge potential for disaster.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers.