West Kelowna  

Man arrested after allegedly setting fire to forested area in Glenrosa

Alleged arsonist released

UPDATE: 6:40 p.m.

The man arrested for allegedly starting a fire near dozens of homes in the Glenrosa area Saturday evening has been released from custody on a number of conditions, pending possible charges.

At about 8:30 p.m., a resident near the top of Webber Road began filming a man in the forested area behind his house. The video shows the man wandering around for some time, before lighting something on fire, throwing it in the dry brush, and running away.

As neighbours rushed to extinguish the fire themselves, police were called, and officers quickly arrived on scene. After taking down a description of the man and his vehicle from residents, officers were able to locate and arrest the man within 30 minutes, as he was still in the area.

"The West Kelowna RCMP do have an investigation underway, [but] it's too early right now for me to have any kind of clarity as to what the motive may have been with regards to this, or even what charges will be considered," said Dawn Roberts, spokesperson for the BC RCMP.

"I understand that today, the individual was released with a series of conditions, and charges are pending."

Roberts said the man has a potential court date in August, if charges are laid, but she did not know the specifics of the conditions the man is now under. She also could not say if the man was a West Kelowna resident, but she said she believed he's from the area.

"The community has been outstanding with regards to providing information – their accounts, what they may have seen – as that will play an important part in our investigation," Roberts said.

Thanks to the quick action of residents in the area, the fire was quickly extinguished. One of the neighbours who helped put out the fire told Castanet the arsonist appeared to have used some type of molotov cocktail-like device, with rags and a bottle of some flammable liquid.

"There would have been a lot of lives in danger," one neighbour said.

ORIGINAL: 1:05 p.m.

A man was arrested in West Kelowna's Glenrosa area Saturday evening after he allegedly tried to set fire to a forested area near dozens of homes. And a resident in the area caught the disturbing incident on camera.

At about 8:30 p.m., a resident near the top of Webber Road noticed someone skulking around in the forested area behind his house, and he decided to start filming.

“He sort of looked sketchy ... he walked up the hill, down the hill, lit something on fire and then threw it,” said B, who asked to remain anonymous.

The arsonist then ran off into the woods, while B and his neighbours sprang into action to douse the fire.

“The neighbours had a 200-foot hose so they ran up there right away ... we had another neighbour with a fire extinguisher come out too, and he was on it right away, so we were lucky all the neighbours reacted very fast,” B said.

“That area ... is in between two rows of streets so if it would have caught, it would have been crazy.”

B's neighbour said they managed to douse the fire completely before the fire department arrived.

“The fire department even said, 'Lucky you guys got that out, because the logistics ... of getting into that would have been a nightmare,'” she said.

“This is too dangerous, there would have been a lot of lives in danger.”

Her husband, who helped extinguish the fire, said it appeared to have been started by some type of molotov-cocktail device, with rags stuffed into a bottle of some flammable liquid.

“It was a firebomb,” he said.

At one point, a neighbour called 911, and the suspected arsonist was reportedly caught by police before he left the area.

“He went around and got his car from the end of the cul-de-sac and tried to leave,” B said. “And he ended up stopping and getting caught by the cops right in front of the house.”

Castanet has reached out to the RCMP to see if charges have been laid against the alleged arsonist.

B.C.'s Interior is exceptionally dry this summer, following a drought through the spring, and record-breaking high temperatures over the last several weeks. There are currently 301 active fires burning across the province.

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