si-nb-farrah-220

RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah says police are taking the incidents very seriously. (CBC)

The RCMP are warning that the situation is getting dangerous in Kent County, where SWN Resources Canada is conducting seismic testing for shale gas.

On Tuesday morning, about 50 people surrounded security workers north of Route 116, near Bass River, said Cpl. Chantal Farrah.

A few hours later, a piece of industrial equipment in the same area was destroyed by fire in a suspected case of arson, she said.

Farrah would not confirm whether the incidents are related to SWN and company officials said they won't comment on security matters.

But Tuesday's incidents are the latest in a string of problems in the area in recent weeks, including property damage and protesters being arrested.

"Any time the police are called to a situation where someone fears for their safety, that is a concern," said Farrah.

"We're taking this very seriously," she said.

"You know we all want to live and work in a safe environment and that's why I'd encourage people to assist the police with this."

No one was injured in the early morning confrontation on the logging road, said Farrah.

Once officers arrived at the scene, the security staff were able to leave safely, she said.

"People are putting themselves in harm’s way by acting this way and putting other people’s security at risk as well, so this is definitely not a practise the police support and that’s why we’re investigating the incident."

A few hours later, shortly after 8 a.m., the Beersville Fire Department called police about a suspected arson that had taken place on a logging road, about three kilometres into the woods.

"They managed to contain the fire so that it did not spread into the nearby woods," said Farrah.

The fire marshal's office and several RCMP resources, including a fire cause investigator, forensic identification experts and the police dog are assisting with the investigation, she said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

SWN Resources is conducting seismic testing in Kent County to determine if developing a shale gas industry in the province is viable.

The Alward government has faced two years of protests against developing the shale gas industry and in particular, the use of the contentious practice of hydraulic fracturing or hydro-fracking.

Hydro-fracking is a process where exploration companies inject a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, creating cracks in shale rock formations to extract natural gas from areas that would otherwise go untapped.

Opponents are concerned the process will ruin the water supply and damage the surrounding environment.