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Boys suspected in two hedge fires: North Vancouver RCMP

Three youths were seen loitering in the area just before the fires
The remains of one hedge on Sowden Street in North Vancouver following a suspicious fire, Tuesday March 26th. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

North Vancouver RCMP are issuing a warning after two Norgate-area hedges were torched under suspicious circumstances Tuesday.

District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services members were called to the 1300 block of Sowden Street around 2:30 p.m. after a homeowner smelled smoke and noticed his 10-foot hedge fully engulfed in flames, according to a release from the North Vancouver RCMP.

Crews put out the blaze but half an hour later, a second hedge in front of another home on the same block also went up in flames, requiring crews to come back and douse the fire before it spread to the adjacent homes.

North Vancouver RCMP Const. Mansoor Sahak said evidence at the scene led investigators to believe the fires were suspicious and in both cases, witnesses told police they saw three 10- to 12-year-old boys loitering in the area prior to the fires being set.

The boys are now considered persons of interest.

Sahak said they are hoping the boys, their parents or someone who knows what happened will come forward so they can have a “sit down” with the kids and their parents, “so we can have a serious chat about that incident, and talk about the consequences – the dangers that their actions posed to the public."

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, it’s unlikely that kids would face criminal charges, Sahak said, although those decisions are always made on a case-by-case basis.

With our increasingly hot and dry summers, Sahak said the public must be extra vigilant in any activities that could lead to a wildfire – a message echoed by Conrad Breakey, captain of public safety for the fire department.

“Currently, our North Shore fire danger rating is considered to be ‘Low,' but under no circumstances should anyone be intentionally lighting a fire to cause damage,” he said. “Fires can start easily, spread rapidly and be hard to control. Open burning is banned all year in the district and it’s paramount that people use extreme caution when engaging in activities, like barbecuing, that could potentially risk starting a fire.”

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact North Vancouver RCMP’s non-emergency number.