Charges laid in series of intentionally set Alberta wildfires, residential arsons

Firefighters from Cold Lake, Bonnyville, La Corey and Iron River were called to Cherry Grove early in the morning for a fire that destroyed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. April 28, 2023. Credit: Facebook/MD of Bonnyville

Charges have been laid against an Alberta man in connection with what RCMP call “a series of intentionally set wildfires,” as well as several arsons to vehicles, homes and a church.

Cold Lake RCMP, the RCMP serious crimes branch, the forestry crimes unit (FCU) and investigators from Alberta Forestry and Parks and Tourism worked together to investigate a series of intentionally set wildfires that occurred between August and September of 2022, as well as vehicles and structures set on fire in the Hamlet of Cherry Grove in April 2023.

An investigation began in August 2022 into several wildfires in the Hilda Lake, Cold Lake Provincial Park, Ardmore and Cherry Grove areas. Officials determined the fires were suspicious and that they had been intentionally set.

Click to play video: 'At least two B.C. wildfires determined to be arson'
At least two B.C. wildfires determined to be arson

There was a fire at the Cherry Grove Rodeo Grounds on Sept. 9, 2022. A wooden platform appeared to have been deliberately set on fire, RCMP said.

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There were fires at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Canada Post office in Cherry Grove on April 28, 2023. The church was destroyed and the post office was heavily damaged. Investigation revealed these fires were arson, RCMP said.

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Then, there were several vehicle and structure fires in the Hamlet of Cherry Grove on April 30, including two homes. They were all determined to be arson, RCMP said.

Later that day, Cold Lake RCMP arrested 29-year-old John Cook, a resident of Cherry Grove, in connection with the fires.

He has been charged with 10 counts of arson.

He had also breached condition sentence conditions (in an unrelated incident) that required him to remain on his property at all times, RCMP said.

Following a hearing, Cook was remanded into custody and is set to appear in court on May 10.

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B.C.-based special night vision helicopter to spend summer in Alberta

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