PORT HOPE GRASS FIRES BELIEVED TO BE DELIBERATELY SET
(NORTHUMBERLAND, ON) – On Monday July 9, 2018, the Northumberland Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with Port Hope, Cobourg and Hamilton Township Fire Departments responded to multiple grass fires along Highway 401 in Port Hope ON.
Approximately 15 grass fires believed to be deliberately set were located near the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 west of East Townline Road through to the Toronto Road exit. Two OPP aircraft units assisted with determining that no fires were set further eastbound and to possibly locate a suspect vehicle.
Fire crews extinguished the fires in a timely manner preventing them from spreading which could have led to highway closures.
These fires had potential for disaster and police are seeking the public’s help with any information that may assist in locating the person or persons responsible for this act.
Northumberland OPP is asking for the public’s assistance with this ongoing investigation and asks that anyone with information on this or other crimes call their nearest OPP detachment. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call the Peterborough/Northumberland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) where you may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000 and not have to appear in court.
Northumberland OPP are investigating after approximately 15 separate grass fires were set along Highway 401 on Monday, July 9, 2018.
The first call for Port Hope Fire Department was approximately 2:30 p.m. on the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 at East Townline Road which borders Durham Region.
Along the way, firefighters witnessed several other fires will responding.
Three stations from Port Hope along with firefighters from Hamilton Township assisted battling numerous fires along Highway 401 between East Townline Road and the Toronto Road exit at Port Hope.
Northumberland OPP Sgt. Mark Collins was one of several units who responded to the fires.
Police kept one lane open of the highway while firefighters worked to control the fires.
An OPP helicopter and aircraft were utilized to spot any fires further east along the highway and to look for a possible vehicle that may be involved.
A black pickup truck was at the scene of the last fire shortly before the flames were spotted.
“It is arson,” said Collins.
“In a situation like this the potential for a disaster to happen is always there. The fire department is engaging the fire with traffic passing.”
There was one minor accident involving a motorcycle and vehicle.
“The actual costs of the resources that were deployed to this situation were fairly astronomical for something that never should have happened.”
As bad as the fires were, Collins said it could have been worse.
“Despite the fact we are in a bit of a drought, it’s not as dry as one might think. What was lit on fire was relatively green which is again why we believe was deliberately set. Nothing like this could have randomly happened over such a long distance.”
As a veteran officer of over 26-years, Collins said it’s something he’s never witnessed.
“I’ve never seen anyone do something so callous and deliberate that could have such huge potential for disaster.”
Collins also adds that the fire departments did a “phenomenal” job extinguishing the fires.
If anyone has any information police ask to call their nearest police detachment or CrimeStoppers.