Chase Mounties are concerned that a home set ablaze on Tuesday in the Shuswap was the result of an escalation of a confrontation over stolen property with previous occupants of the house.
Police responded to the residence on Hilliam Road in Scotch Creek at about 8:30 p.m. in response to a report of suspicious activity on the property, only to find a fire starting on a wall of the home. No one was found at the property, according to an RCMP press release.
Scotch Creek and Celista Fire departments were training in the area and quickly responded to douse the flames and save the structure. Examination of the fire determined it was purposely set and police are now investigating to determine who may have set the fire.
The home is on the same property where a group of residents visited last Saturday, believing it to be connected with a rash of recent thefts in the area that have occurred in the past month, according to police.
“The RCMP does not condone vigilantism and would recommend the public to leave investigations to the police,”Cpl. Scott Linklater stated in the release.
Chase RCMP Sgt. Barry Kennedy said the group went to the house to confront the occupants and a loud noise, sounding like a gunshot, could be heard from within the home as a man yelled at the group to leave.
“A male was then seen exiting the house carrying a shotgun, walking toward the group who had retreated to the roadway,” a Chase RCMP press release stated. “The male then returned to the house.”
Mounties from Chase and Salmon Arm responded, along with the South East District Emergency Response Team. The suspect, however, fled before police arrived and the gun was not found.
Mounties say they are familiar with the residence.
Kennedy said the house is unoccupied, owned by someone who lives out of town. He said police are working with BC Community Corrections because some people have been giving their probation officer the house address, unbeknownst to the homeowner.
“We have descriptions of the suspects and, through association of previous files we’ve had at the house, we have a fairly good idea who they are, so now we’re attempting to locate them,” Kennedy said.
The Chase RCMP Detachment is asking that anyone with any information regarding the fire investigation, or any other crime, to contact the Chase Detachment at 250-679-3221 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.