Man facing charges in relation to arson-caused wildfires near Stave Lake/Mission
An investigation into a series of deliberately set fires near Stave Lake has resulted in arson charges against one Lower Mainland man.
Christopher White, 35, has been charged with three counts of arson, damage to property under Section 434 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Mr. White is making his first court appearance today, Aug. 15, in Abbotsford Provincial Court.
The charges come as a result of a joint investigation between the BC RCMP Forest Crimes unit and Mission RCMP, with assistance from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the BC Wildfire Service.
Anytime there are uncontrolled and deliberately set fires in areas that are popular recreation areas there is a significant risk to people, and infrastructure, explains Inspector Ted De Jager, Officer in Charge of the Mission RCMP. Mission RCMP have increased patrols throughout the summer in the Stave Lake area and along several other forest service roads which are commonly used for recreational activities to ensure the safety of the public.
In 2011 the BC RCMP Forest Crimes Unit received a report from the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations regarding a number of suspicious wildfires that had occurred near Stave Lake in Mission, British Columbia. Natural Resource Officers with the Ministry reported they were aware of a number of deliberately set fires which had occurred from 2008 to 2010. Fire origin and cause investigators from the ministry’s BC Wildfire Service also played a significant role in gathering evidence related to this case.
All of the fires occurred during the month of July in the same geographic area of Stave Lake. This area is accessed via the Florence Lake Forest Service Road, which runs along the west side of Stave Lake. Evidence gathered during the course of their investigations led Natural Resources Officers to believe that these fires were potentially connected.
This investigation and the resulting charges demonstrate the effectiveness of a collaborative approach to wildfire investigations. Suspected cases of arson are taken very seriously as they can put communities, resources and infrastructure at risk. Everyone is urged to use fire responsibly and always adhere to any fire restrictions that are in place.
For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit the BC Wildfire Service website at www.bcwildfire.ca . To report a wildfire, unattended campfire, open burning violation or any unusual activity related to fire use, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cell phone.