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Fire chief concerned as suspicious fires continue in Castlegar

Fire department sees 60-per-cent increase in fire calls so far in 2023
A suspicious wildland fire in Fairview grew to 100 metres by 200 metres back in July. Photo: Castlegar Fire Department

Suspicious human-caused fires continue to be a problem in Castlegar.

During the month of September, the Castlegar Fire Department responded to nine fires and five of them were considered suspicious in nature, according to Fire Chief Sam Lattanzio.

One of those fires occurred when a molotov cocktail was thrown at a home in the 2900 block of 5th Avenue on Sept. 12.

September’s fires follow the trend for the year with CFD seeing a 60-per-cent increase in fires in the city. In 2022 the department attended 60 fires through the end of September. In 2023 that number jumped to 96 for the same time period.

Lattanzio says the increase is particularly concerning because most of the increase is due to deliberately set fires, nuisances/mischief fires and arson fires.

“If you see someone deliberately setting fires, please call the police and the fire department immediately,” encourages Lattanzio.

Castlegar RCMP Sgt. Monty Taylor says that police are investigating several fires that have occurred since the beginning of September.

On Sept. 17 a sign stapled to a power pole was set on set on fire near a local business in the 1700 block of Columbia Avenue. There are no suspects in this fire.

On Oct. 16 police responded to an unattended camp fire behind businesses in the 200 block of Columbia Avenue.

On Oct. 17 a broom that was being stored outside of a building in the 800 block of Merry Creek Road was set on fire. There are no suspects at this time.

Taylor says police are still waiting for charge approval related to an Aug. 12 fire outside of a business on Minto Road. At the time, a suspect was identified through a surveillance video and a 28-year-old man was arrested.

“The scheduled date for the suspect came, however the Crown had not approved charges and as a result the suspect is not on any bail conditions in relation to the offense,” explained Taylor. “This is concerning and we have sent numerous requests to the Crown in hopes of a timely charge approval, especially given the fire season and history of the suspect, however they still have not reviewed the matter.”

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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