Extra police patrols and a citizen's watch group are trying to catch an arsonist who has set nine fires in Winnipeg's Fort Rouge neighbourhood in the past three months.


Coun. John Orlikow says extra police have been deployed in the Fort Rouge neighbourhood in a bid to nab an arsonist who has set nine fires in the past three months. ((CBC))

Homeowners have been told a suspect has been identified, though no arrest has been made. It's done little to ease the tension in the southwestern Winnipeg neighbourhood.

The fires are usually started in garbage and recycling bins, which are then pushed against people's homes, garages and fences.

Catching the arsonist may be tricky, a resident said.

"I mean, it happens so randomly," said Paul Chow, a father of three. "This one here [got burned] in the afternoon. This house fire was late in the evening. The house fire over here was around 12 o'clock, 1 in the morning.  I mean, what do you do?

"I'm very surprised by it actually," Chow added. "I didn't really expect it, especially for this area."

City Coun. John Orlikow says police have been added to the area, and a citizen's group will also patrol the lanes to look for and correct danger spots, such as dark corners and places with excessive debris.

Orlikow said he is organizing a meeting for residents in the coming weeks to provide tips on making their property safer, such as cutting down overhanging tree branches.

The main goal, Orlikow said, is to keep sheds and garages from being targets in the first place.

"Gasoline, propane tanks — all the chemicals are generally in the garage … and that's why they go up so quickly," Orlikow said. "So, again, if we can stop those nuisance fires, then they won't spread forward."

However, Orlikow's warnings are little comfort to people such as Lauri Ahoff, who woke up one morning in June with his house on fire.

"When I came out, all this was in flames here, " Ahoff told CBC News, pointing to an area on his 100-year-old home. The arsonist started the fire in a pail, which was pushed next to the house.

The fire caused $50,000 in damage, Ahoff said, adding he was grateful no one was injured or killed in the attack.