Local fire chiefs in northern Cape Breton feel they're responding to fewer arsons but the RCMP say there are still too many, citing four recent fires in the Ingonish area and one in Meat Cove.

"There was a few cottages. There was a foundation to a house burnt and an empty house in the North Shore area was burnt," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Craig Yorke.

"They did have an arson in Meat Cove. It was the Meat Cove Lodge, which was totally destroyed by fire."

Clayton MacKinnon, the fire chief for the Bay St. Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department, said his crews responded to many more fires last year — about 35 fires of them, most of which were considered suspicious.

"A lot of them were suspicious, very suspicious for sure," he said.

"There was quite a bit of investigation going on. We had some extra RCMP officers and we had some crime units come in and we did some investigation."

Northern Cape Breton is sparsely populated. According to Statistics Canada's 2011 census, 7,115 people were living in Victoria County, which spans 287,100 hectares.

When the number of fires continued to rise last year, some companies stopped providing home insurance and the RCMP were working overtime trying to stop the fires.

Yorke said even with door-to-door canvassing, officers didn't get much information and no charges were laid.

"We rely on actually witnesses to provide that necessary information, identify individuals that are responsible for those arsons," he said.

"That's very hard sometimes to do that, especially when you live in a small community and at the back of their minds they don't know if they are going to be next or not."