Woman arrested in connection with two of five suspicious Port Alberni fires

Woman arrested in connection with two of five suspicious Port Alberni fires
Port Alberni Fire Department/Facebook
The fire at Stamp Avenue and Roger Street was the first of three fires the Port Alberni Fire Department responded to on March 29, 2023.

Port Alberni RCMP say a woman in her 30s was arrested in connection to two of the five suspicious fires in Port Alberni on Wednesday.

Port Alberni fire crews were called to five fires a few blocks apart within the span of three hours.

The first fire was grass and brush at Stamp Avenue and Roger Street grew to about 20 by 50 feet before crews were able to put it out, according to the fire department’s Facebook page.

Mike Owens, Port Alberni fire chief says the call for this fire came in at 5:52 p.m.

At 6:28 p.m. the department was called to a second grass and brush fire, this time between Wallace Street and Stamp Avenue.

The department says it grew to about 10 by 30 feet.

Port Alberni RCMP say officers conducted an investigation and spoke to witnesses who saw a woman at both of the first two fires, who was known to police. Officers located and arrested her.

“It is concerning to see deliberate fires being set like this in the centre of town. After multiple suspicious fires were set last year, we understand the public’s concern for the safety of their homes and properties,” Const. Richard Johns, media relations officer with the Port Alberni RCMP said in a news release. “The comprehensive investigation of front-line officers, tied with the vigilance of concerned citizens has hopefully put a damper on an early fire season in the Alberni Valley.”

The woman was released from custody the next day with conditions and will be monitored by community corrections.

In addition to the first two fires the woman was arrested for, Port Alberni Fire Department responded to three more.

At 7:01 p.m., at Dunbar Street crews were called to respond to a stump fire, then at 7:05 p.m. called to a dumpster fire in the 3100-block of Second Avenue.

The fifth fire was called in at 8:51 p.m. at Kingsway and Third avenues. Owens says this fire was branches that had been put on a pile. He says this fire spread to nearby trees.

Owens says these five calls were on top of the regular calls the department responds to on a daily basis.

“It takes our full on-duty resources to respond to these which then makes it so that we’re unavailable should additional calls come in,” Owens said. “So they either have to go into the queue or sometimes we’ll end up calling in additional resources. We didn’t have to do that yesterday, but certainly it takes all of our on-duty resources.”

Owens says these fires have been deemed suspicious and the RCMP is investigating.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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