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No charges in suspected arson that sparked 2018 Vancouver Island wildfire

No further action being taken on suspected arson from 2018 Maple Mountain wildfire
Area of Maple Mountain burned by the 2018 wildfire. (Photo by the Municipality of North Cowichan)

Arson was suspected from the outset as the cause of the wildfire near Crofton in 2018, but police aren’t taking any further action on the case.

Cpl. Cari Lougheed of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP spoke to one of the investigators who released the following statement: “This fire was investigated as an arson, a suspect was identified/arrested/interviewed. There was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges. The investigation has been concluded.”

The matter was brought to the forefront again Monday during a public forestry tour of Maple Mountain attended by 13 residents and conducted by North Cowichan’s municipal forester Shaun Mason. The tour was part of moving forward in the engagement process on the forest reserve after a pause.

Mason noted several ignition sites had been identified on the mountain. “At least six that I saw,” he said.

“You could see where they had different areas cordoned off,” Mason added.

Between the BC Wildfire Service and the municipality, the fire that reached a peak of about 5.9 hectares cost more than $330,000 to fight.

The cause of the fire spotted in the early afternoon of Aug. 8, 2018 quickly became apparent at that time, Mason recalled.

“It was blue skies and sunny the day of, not that there was lightning or anything like that.”

Related story: Maple Mountain fire ‘under control’, no longer actively burning

Tinder dry conditions made Maple Mountain and other areas of the forest reserve susceptible to potential fires again in 2021 from mid-June into early September.

“There was some nervous moments this summer,” Mason conceded.

“We had a few that didn’t make the news because our fire department got on top of it.”

Burnt trees on Maple Mountain from the 2018 wildfire. (Photo by Municipality of North Cowichan)