Penticton RCMP have a man in custody after a series of grass fires broke out on late Sunday (Aug. 12) in the Okanagan River Channel area.
At about 5:30 p.m. yesterday the Penticton Fire Department and RCMP were dispatched to a report of a fire having been lit near Eckhardt Avenue and the Channel Parkway.
The witness who called the fire in said he observed a man lighting the fire. He was described as wearing all black and carrying a bag, and the witness said he saw the man running south on the west side of the Channel Parkway trail.
“We had three fires on the channel and we had one fire on the KVR Trail, on Penticton Indian Band Land, not far from the channel,” said PFD Captain Dennis Smith. “Our guys noticed him standing there, watching the fourth fire. We let the police know, and they had him in custody pretty quickly after that.”
Const. James Grandy said when they arrived on the scene, officers saw another fire starting nearby, just south of the first one. While patrolling the area for the suspect, officers overheard a man cheering and then saw the man being pursued by a firefighter.
After a short foot pursuit, officers arrested the suspect and found he was carrying a lighter and balled-up paper towel.
“At this time, the suspect remains in custody as the investigation continues. The RCMP is requesting anyone who may have observed this incident, to call the Penticton RCMP, 250-492-4300,” said Grandy.
Smith said the cause of the fires is suspicious, and the investigation is in RCMP hands. He adds that the fire danger remains high throughout the region.
“We have a wildland interface all around our city, and even within our city. It doesn’t take much for a little fire to turn into a big fire in a hurry, with disastrous results, as we have seen across the country,” said Smith.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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