Vernon police are investigating two wildfires in the Westwold area that may have been ignited by an arsonist Monday, May 2.
Shortly after 2:30 p.m., the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP received a report that an unknown person was lighting slash piles on fire in the area, one on Douglas Lake Road and another on Westwold Station Forest Service Road.
BC Wildfire Service sent out personnel who quickly contained both fires before they could spread. The two Westwold-area fires were extinguished Tuesday.
“We have had multiple incidents and they are suspected human-caused and are under investigation,” fire information officer Shaelee Stearns said.
Police also received unconfirmed reports that a small, blue pickup truck driven by a woman was seen leaving the scene of both burns. The truck was not found despite the search efforts of multiple officers and an RCMP Air Services helicopter.
“We’re incredibly concerned that someone would be intentionally starting these fires,” said Const. Chris Terleski, media relations officer for the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP. “After the destruction and devastation caused by wildfires last year, we appreciate and understand how terribly unsettling this is for residents. We’re actively investigating the incidents and are appealing to the public for any information that may help us in furthering this investigation.”
Anyone who was in the area and witnessed suspicious activity, or has information related to the fires or the small blue pickup, is asked to contact the Enderby office of the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and quote police file NR2022-2366. Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to police.
Information has been circulating on social media since April 8 about fires being started in the area and investigators are working to follow up on tips and leads but remind the public to always report information.
“We cannot stress how important it is to the investigation that anyone with information such as this, that is related to the fires, or the vehicle, to please contact the police directly,” Terleski said. “We cannot act on information provided third hand or through social media.”
To report a wildfire, dial *5555 or 1-800-663-5555.