File photo An arson charge was laid against an Abbotsford man in relation to a house fire in Keremeos in June.

Arson charge laid in Keremeos house fire

An arson charge was laid against an Abbotsford man in relation to a house fire in Keremeos in June

  • Feb. 5, 2019 1:44 p.m.

A charge of arson has been laid against an Abbotsford man eight months after fire destroyed a vacant home in Keremeos.

The fire started in the yard of the vacant house in the 1000-block of 4th Street at about 1 p.m. on June 14. Smoke billowed thick in the air throughout Keremeos. The house was vacant, but neighbours told the Review the owner had been to the home that day. Windows were kicked out of the home and a cat had been seen run from the burning house.

The house had to be knocked down so Keremeos Volunteer firefighters could ensure it was out.

Within hours of the blaze, RCMP deemed the cause of the fire suspicious.

Related: UPDATE: Cause of Keremeos house fire deemed suspicious

Cpl. Brian Evans of the Keremeos detachment said then that the fire was started outdoors in the yard. The fire spread quickly and engulfed the home.

“We spent time collecting the evidence and putting the case together and gathering statements,” Evans said of the delay in laying charges. “It’s just the process.”

Keremeos RCMP attended the scene and spoke with several witnesses in the area. Evans said the fire was deemed human-caused early on in the investigation and that was particularly disturbing as there were fire bans in place as the Similkameen headed into wildfire season.

“This action created a significant risk to the community and primarily the residents surrounding that home, but also in a dry season that we have in the summer, it could have been significantly worse. It’s just a high level of risk and ignorance,” he said. “It’s dangerous for the firefighters, dangerous for the public. It’s dangerous for everybody especially when it was at a time there were no fires of that nature permitted anyway.”

Michael Doerksen, 44, of Abbotsford was charged with arson. Doerksen is scheduled to appear in Penticton Provincial Court on March 13.

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