RCMP, government vehicles set on fire in 'targeted attack' in Smithers, B.C., police say
Early-morning fire in hotel parking lot left 8 vehicles either damaged or destroyed: RCMP
Four RCMP cruisers and several government vehicles, including an ambulance, were burned in a hotel parking lot in Smithers, B.C., early Wednesday in what police are describing as a "targeted attack on emergency service vehicles."
RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said eight vehicles were damaged or destroyed by fire outside the Sunshine Inn in the central B.C. town, which lies around 300 kilometres west of Prince George.
Photographs of the scene show a charred cruiser and pickup with RCMP markings.
The cruisers appeared to have their gas tanks flipped open.
A B.C. Hydro truck was also burned, and the side of an ambulance was charred.
Saunderson said RCMP and firefighters responded to a report of several vehicle fires at about 4:30 a.m. PT.
RCMP officers sent to patrol the area around Smithers often stay at the Sunshine Inn.
One of the RCMP vehicles that burned was marked with "C-IRG," denoting a task force that addresses "energy industry incidents," according to an RCMP website.
C-IRG officers conduct regular patrols of the remote forest service roads that lead to a Coastal GasLink pipeline construction camp about 100 kilometres from Smithers.
In an email to CBC News, Coastal GasLink's parent company, TC Energy, said that since the arson, it had increased security measures at its worksites in the area "out of an abundance of caution."
The company says it is in touch with its workers, contractors, and RCMP "as the situation evolves."
No one has claimed responsibility for the arson.
RCMP have not released any information about suspects or a motive.
Cpl Saunderson said police are reviewing CCTV footage from businesses close to the Sunshine Inn.
Carl Chad, who has an automotive shop close to the hotel, told CBC News his security alarm went off at 4 a.m., and he saw "somebody walking through our lot" on his security footage.
When he arrived at work at Four Lakes Automotive around 7:45 a.m. PT, he said the vehicle fires had been extinguished.
Chad said he's concerned and angry.
"If people are willing to light RCMP vehicles on fire directly [outside] where they're sleeping, then it makes us wonder how safe we are," he said.
With files from Nadia Mansour