British Columbia

Williams Lake mayor fired up over alleged lootings and arsons

When asked to describe two people arrested for allegedly looting evacuated homes in Williams Lake, B.C., Walt Cobb didn't mince words.

There have been at least 10 looting-related arrests in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake, say police

An RCMP officer mans the evacuation zone near Williams Lake, B.C. (Simon Hergott)

When asked to describe two people arrested for allegedly looting evacuated homes in Williams Lake, B.C., mayor Walt Cobb didn't mince words. 

"They're just scumbuckets as far as I'm concerned," said Cobb of two accused who were arrested Tuesday.

Williams Lake is currently under an evacuation alert due to several wildfires in the area, and Cobb estimates there are around 100 additional RCMP officers in and around his city, as officers enforce roadblocks and guard evacuated properties.

Despite that, police say there have been at least 10 arrests in connection with looting in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake.

One of those arrests happened on Tuesday, when two people with a criminal history were stopped at a traffic light in Williams Lake and discovered with a television, believed to have been stolen during a break and enter from an evacuated home, police said.

A search warrant was executed and police said they subsequently found several items they believe were stolen from three other homes. 

"A 27-year-old male and a 24-year-old female have been taken into custody and are currently facing possible charges relating to break and enter and possession of stolen property," said RCMP in a statement. 

A police officer wears a face mask to help deal with smoke in the air near Williams Lake Wednesday, as wildfires continue to burn across the B.C. Interior. (Simon Hergott/CBC)

Grass fire at Stampede Grounds

It wasn't the first time this week Cobb has used colourful language to describe his anger over alleged crimes being committed in his city.

On Monday, he said he saw three people running from a grass fire that suddenly flared at the Stampede Grounds, where many evacuated horses from surrounding communities have been staying.

"I saw these people running across the park, and I wondered 'what are they running for?' And then I saw the flames," he said.

"Within a couple minutes, we probably had 20 people fighting the fires."

Police were called and RCMP eventually arrested two people, both of whom are young offenders. They are being held in connection to the grassfire they ran from, police say.

No charges have been laid, but Cobb had harsh words for the arrested youths.

"So stupid, and idiotic. What would you call anybody who would do something like that?" Cobb asked.

"I'm sorry, it's just really frustrating."

On Thursday, Mike Morris, the solicitor general and minister for public safety, said he had asked for RCMP officers outside of B.C. to assist in Williams Lake.

"We want to make sure we're keeping them as safe as possible. I know there's been some issues of looting and break and entering," Morris said. 

"We're very cognizant of that, and we've put a few of those bad actors in jail."