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Police device believed to have sparked apartment fire, evacuation during North Okanagan manhunt

Police ‘distraction device’ sparks apartment fire, partial evacuation during North Okanagan manhunt.
Police ‘distraction device’ sparks apartment fire, partial evacuation during North Okanagan manhunt. B.C. RCMP

A police search for a wanted man ended with a small fire, an apartment building being partially evacuated and the suspect still on the lam.

The incident unfolded on Monday afternoon in Vernon, say RCMP, after police received a tip on the whereabouts of the man who’s wanted for an alleged stabbing incident.

Police say officers who had been in the area on an unrelated matter spotted a man matching the description of Alexander Boucher as he went inside an apartment building along the 3400 block of Okanagan Avenue.

Read more: Attempted murder charges approved, arrest warrants issued for Shuswap stabbing incident

A containment perimeter was set up, with officers calling the RCMP’s Southeast District Emergency Response Team to help. Police K9 teams were also on scene.

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And that’s when things didn’t go as planned.

“As the team made its entry into the apartment, tactical ERT officers deployed a distraction device inside the suite,” police said in a press release.

“Once inside, officers discovered that a fire had been sparked inside a storage room area. Investigators believe the device utilized by the tactical team may have sparked some loose debris.”

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RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said to ensure the safety of other building residents, police ordered the immediate evacuation of adjacent apartments.

O’Donaghey said Vernon Fire Rescue crews contained the fire to the apartment unit.

“Vernon RCMP, who provided support to evacuees at the scene, wish to extend its appreciation for the patience and understanding of all those impacted by the unfolding situation,” said O’Donaghey.

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Police say the search for Boucher and fellow wanted man Terrance Jones continues.

RCMP are warning the public not to approach either man, and if spotted in any community to call 911 immediately.

If you have information on the whereabouts of either, you are asked to contact your local police department, the Salmon Arm RCMP at 250-832-6044 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.