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Possible arsonist ignites 3 Rutland fires

A firefighter puts out the third suspicious fire that was lit near the intersection of Leathead and Fraser Roads in Rutland Monday. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
A firefighter puts out the third suspicious fire that was lit near the intersection of Leathead and Fraser Roads in Rutland Monday.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

A grass fire and two hedge fires were lit between Leathead and Pearson Roads in Rutland within minutes of each other Monday.

Just before 11:30 a.m., two engines and a bush truck responded to reports of a small grass fire on Fraser Road.

While putting out the blaze, crews noticed smoke coming from a small hedge fire at Pearson and Hollywood Roads.

One of the engines travelled the short distance to extinguish the second fire, which only managed to singe a few small hedges.

Approximately half an hour after the second fire was ignited, a pillar of smoke rose from tall hedges near the intersection of Fraser and Leathead Roads.

Platoon Captain Henry Roelofs said all three fires are considered suspicious due to the proximity of each other.

"Due to their nature, it's pretty obvious that they were maliciously set," said Roelofs.

The third fire was the biggest and could've been a lot worse, according to Roelofs.

"We were fortunate I had a crew available that quick on the third fire. That one could've really gone. The hedges are probably 20-feet high, packed together…they burn like wildfire."

Ted Booth lives on Fraser Road and noticed the first grass fire burning across the street from his house.

"We saw a great deal of smoke and flames—flames were actually going into the neighbour's yard," said Booth.

Booth and another Fraser Road resident grabbed their garden hoses and soaked the first blaze in an attempt to contain it until crews arrived.

Roelofs said this action proved to be hugely beneficial.

"There was a very large tree right beside it, that was obviously a concern for us if it got into that tree. We owe them a debt of gratitude for that one—they saved a lot of extra work there," said Roelofs.

Booth said he also saw the third fire moments after it was ignited. He didn't notice any possible culprits during either of the fires.

The Rutland resident sounded frustrated as he speculated who might have caused the flames.

"It's just some idiot, somebody who is obviously trying to make a lot of trouble. It was very brazen—fire crews were still here when he lit the (third) fire."

Roelofs said it's important for witnesses of all suspicious fires to share any information they have with Mounties.

"If you see something suspicious, especially if there is a fire, be sure to contact the RCMP."

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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