Teenager responsible for sparking Rise fire

19 August 2012

published by www.vernonmorningstar.com


USA -- An error in judgement is being linked to a grass fire that threatened two Vernon homes.

Authorities say a young person found a lighter, tested it and accidently initiated a fire in the area next to The Rise neighbourhood Tuesday. The blaze spread to 36 hectares and came close to two residences.

“The young offender has been co-operative,” said Gord Molendyk, RCMP spokesperson, who would not reveal the individual’s age or gender.

The teenager was identified after witnesses spoke to the RCMP, Vernon Fire Department and the Ministry of Forests team working on the investigation.

The agencies are recommending the youth go through the restorative justice program as a way of being accountable for their actions.

“It’s a much quicker system and all of the people affected are present,” said Molendyk of restorative justice.

“The individual who caused the harm meets the individuals who had harm done to them.”

Ultimately, a decision is made on punishment.

“It could be community hours or going through a program,” said Molendyk.

The rapidly moving blaze Tuesday was tackled by crews from the Vernon, Okanagan Landing and BX-Swan Lake fire departments, as well as ground and air personnel from the Ministry of Forests.

Some resources still remain on site.

“There have been several hot spots and crews are attending to them,” said Lawrie Skolrood, Vernon deputy fire chief.

“We had crews on hand for the weekend and we will continue with fire watch for this week.”

Residents are urged to be cautious with fire sources.

“The warning needs to be very clear at this time that the conditions in our area right now are such that a fire can be out of control in minutes,” said Molendyk.