A fire that engulfed a large stack of straw bales in Erin early Wednesday morning last week is the latest in a series of fires considered “suspicious” by Wellington OPP, prompting Crime Stoppers to increase its minimum reward to $1,000 for information leading an arrest in the case.
Fire crews from Erin village and Halton Hills responded at 4:16 a.m. after a witness spotted the fire near the Third Line and Erin-Halton Townline. Hillsburgh firefighters were called in about 9 a.m. to assist.
The blaze broke out in a stack of 135 straw bales. Halton Hills Fire Department Deputy Chief Bruce Morrison said firefighters encountered treacherous icy road conditions while responding.
Police in Wellington, Guelph and Halton were already investigating a series of 14 recent fires in abandoned structures or vehicles, believed to have been deliberately set in Centre Wellington, Guelph/Eramosa, Puslinch, Milton and the City of Guelph.
Investigators from the West Region OPP Criminal Support Unit, the Forensics Identification Services Unit and the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall were called to the Erin scene.
“This fire is deemed to be suspicious,” said OPP spokesperson Cheri Rockefeller. “Any person who may have witnessed the fire or has information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Wellington County OPP at 1-888-310-1122.”
Erin Fire Chief Dan Callaghan said, “While the multi-jurisdictional investigation continues, property owners can protect themselves by making sure they lock and secure empty buildings, install trail cameras on properties to monitor who comes and goes, visit your property often and report any and all suspicious vehicles or person(s) that show up on the property at odd times of the day or night to the OPP.”
Crime Stoppers Guelph Wellington (CSGW) issued a statement Thursday morning, at the site of the former Everton Mill that was burned in Guelph/Eramosa Township.
“The CSGW Board of Directors recognizes the seriousness of suspicious fires in our community and the impact these incidents of the past few months could have on public safety,” said Program Coordinator Sarah Bowers-Peter.
“With this in mind, the Board has taken the unprecedented step of increasing the minimum reward amount from $50 to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the individual or individuals.
“This amount could be split amongst numerous tipsters with equal tip information. A tipster could also receive a reward ranging up to $2,000 if the tip warrants it.”
As with all tips, CSGW will keep the tipster anonymous and their information confidential. They will not disclose whether or not a CSGW tip has assisted police with these investigations. This targeted reward campaign began on February 16, and will end on April 1, 2017.
Anyone with information regarding these suspicious fires can contact CSGW at 1-800-222-TIPS or at www.csgw.tips. Tipsters do not have to speak with police or testify in court. They must also keep themselves anonymous and not reveal to anyone, even police, that they have contacted CSGW.
Here is a list of the suspicious fires:
- Sept. 24, 2016 – 7432 16th Line, Mapleton Township (house);
- Oct. 14 – 5230 3rd Line, Guelph-Eramosa Township (house);
- Oct. 19 – 5292 3rd Line, Guelph-Eramosa Township (house);
- Oct. 28 – 747 Arkell Road, Township of Puslinch (house);
- Oct. 30 – 481 Townline Rd, Township of Puslinch (vehicle);
- Oct. 31 – 4538 Side Road 10, Township of Puslinch (vehicle);
- Nov. 16 – 5953 6th Line, Guelph-Eramosa Township (sawmill);
- Nov. 15-17 – 4916 County Road 29, Guelph-Eramosa Township (cabin);
- Dec. 5 – 7070 Fife Road, Guelph (barn);
- Jan. 16 – 13241 6th Line, Milton (house);
- Jan. 19, 2017 – County Road 49 Guelph-Eramosa Township (mill);
- Feb. 3 – 6873 Hwy 7, Guelph-Eramosa Township (shop);
- Feb. 3 – 5413 Township Road 3, Guelph-Eramosa Township (barn/house);
- Feb. 7 – 7429 5th Line, Milton (house);
- Feb. 15 – 3rd Line at Erin-Halton Townline, Town of Erin (straw bales).