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Charges stem from Stave Lake wildfire arsons

A series of wildfires along the west side of Stave Lake – just east of Maple Ridge – have resulted in criminal charges against a 35-year-old man. - TIMES files
A series of wildfires along the west side of Stave Lake – just east of Maple Ridge – have resulted in criminal charges against a 35-year-old man.
— image credit: TIMES files

A man appears in court today to face charges of arson in connection with a series of wildfires at Stave Lake – just east of Maple Ridge.

Christopher White, 35, was charged with three counts of arson and damage to property, explained Insp. Ted De Jager, the top cop at Mission RCMP, his team playing a part in investigating these wildfires that date back several years.

“Anytime there are uncontrolled and deliberately set fires in areas that are popular recreation areas there is a significant risk to people, and infrastructure,” he said.

In this case, BC RCMP forest crime unit received a report from the the forest ministry regarding a number of “suspicious” wildfires near Stave Lake between 2008 and 2010. All of the fires occurred during the month of July, in the same geographic are of Stave Lake, an area access via the Florence Lake forest service road that runs north of Dewdney Trunk Road along the west side of Stave Lake.

Fire origin and cause investigators from the ministry’s BC Wildfire Service also played a significant role in gathering evidence related to this case, De Jager said.

“Evidence gathered during the course of their investigations lead natural resources officers to believe that these fires were potentially connected,” the inspector added.

He pointed to this investigation and the resulting charges, saying it demonstrates 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,” De Jager said, urged everyone to always use fire responsibly and adhere to burning restrictions.

As for the Stave Lake area, he said Mission RCMP has increased patrols throughout the summer at this popular recreation site, as well as several other forest service roads in their community.

For the latest information on fire activity, conditions, and prohibitions, people can visit the BC Wildlife Service website at www.bcwildfire.ca. To report a wildfire, unattended campfire, opening burning violation, or any unusual activity related to fire, witnesses can call 1-800-663-5555 or *555 on their cellphone.

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