Nanaimo fire crews are fighting several brush fires that were deliberately set off the Nanaimo Parkway.
Smoke can be seen coming from the bushes off Northfield Road, near the parkway.
A witness told CHEK News there is heavy smoke in the area, and ashes were falling onto their car. They said it was “very hot” when driving by.
— Kendall Hanson (@Kendall_Hanson) July 4, 2023
Crews were called to the scene just before noon.
Cpt. Brian Cripps with Nanaimo Fire Rescue said there are at least five fires on one side of the parkway and another two on the other side of the highway.
“We get fires in here every year, there’s a lot of homeless camps in here, but it’s mostly just grassland and some trees,” Cripps added. “We have all of our resources tied up in the city dealing with this right now. We are trying to get call-in crews here to protect the rest of the city.”
A witness told fire crews they saw a man setting the fires along the walking trail parallel to the Nanaimo Parkway.
Nanaimo RCMP said while fire crews were dealing with the fires, numerous officers were actively engaged in locating this person.
The suspect was found and taken into police custody just before 12:30 p.m.
“Due to the extremely dry and windy conditions, not all of the fires have been contained, which has resulted in a portion of the southbound lanes being closed,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.
Until further notice, the southbound lanes from Mostar Road to Third Street are closed, and traffic is being rerouted to allow fire crews to safely lay lines and address the fires.
Traffic is slow in the area near Northfield Road, where firetrucks are lined up. Cripps said crews will be hitting hot spots for a while.
“We’ll be here a while. It’s obviously dry and windy, and we want to make sure it’s out,” Cripps said.
Traffic Alert – our @IAFF905 Firefighters are battling multiple Wildfires in the Parkway and Northfield area. Please avoid the area. We have multiple trucks on the roads. @cityofnanaimo pic.twitter.com/zvwnO9TaVT
— Nanaimo Fire Rescue (@NanaimoFire) July 4, 2023
O’Brien said police are extremely thankful for the information provided by witnesses that ultimately led to the timely arrest of the suspect.
“Police, however, need to speak to these individuals to find out exactly what they saw,” O’Brien added.
Anyone who witnessed the fires that were set or has dashcam video from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. of the affected area is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP.