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Vernon  

Cops can't catch arsonist

“We need a break."

Those words of frustration were spoken by Gord Molendyk of the Vernon RCMP on Monday while addressing the media. He was referring to the 17 suspicious fires that has taken place in the past two months.

The North Okanagan RCMP is getting desperate for information, footage, or tips that could lead to an arrest and help quell the non-stop arsons that have plagued the Greater Vernon area.

Molendyk says this is one of the bigger arson files that they have had to deal with in recent years.  

“A while ago we had a short stint of several dumpster and pallet fires but it stopped around half a dozen and then that was it, there were no more. I don’t believe there was ever an arrest made. But this one is now into the high teens and we are very concerned.”

RCMP did have a small break last week in the form of security footage released after a fire was set beneath a squad car near the Vernon courthouse.

A person of interest (pictured to the right and below) was released to media with a plea to the public for help. Molendyk says there has been some response but not enough to identify the person.

“This (arson file) is one of those frustrating files in the sense that they are spread all around the community and different things are being lit on fire from dumpsters to pallets, boats and vehicles,” says Molendyk.

He adds that so far the only common link between the fires has been the times they were set -- most have been reported between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., including this most recent fire.

It was just after midnight on Monday morning when RCMP and Vernon Fire were called to suspicious fire number 17.

This time it was a fairly minor blaze of an open shed structure, in a storage lot on 25th avenue.

The lot was right behind a large boat storage facility located at 4401B 25th Avenue and the fire was fortunately not close enough to spread to any of the boats.

Molendyk says fire crews were able to actually put out the fire through the fence without entering the gated lot.

“A small wooden structure was set on fire,” says Molendyk. “The Police Dog Unit were called out but were not able to locate anyone that may have left the area.”

If you know anything about this fire or any of the recent fires you are asked to call the Vernon RCMP at 250 545-7171 or call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222 8477.

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