New Brunswick

String of suspicious fires leaves Bath residents on edge

Firefighters in Bath have fought 12 suspicious fires in just six weeks.

A vacant house, camp, tree plantation among victims of fires in past 6 weeks

Volunteer firefighters in Bath fought an early morning fire in late April, before a fire bug went to work in the area. (Bath Fire Department)

Firefighters in Bath have fought 12 suspicious fires in just six weeks.

Chief Stephen Armour of the Bath Fire Department said the fires have broken out all over the rural community, about 50 kilometres north of Woodstock, and in the surrounding area.

It's senseless. They're burning anything and everything. - Stephen Armour, Bath fire chief

Firefighters have been dispatched to fires in vacant buildings, a potato house, a camp and a tree plantation in the Bath area, which has a population of only about 2,500.

Armour said most of the fires were set in the middle of the night, but some happened in broad daylight.

"You've got people living on the edge of their seats right now," he said. "We don't know when we're going to get called out next."

Armour, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 32 years and fire chief for 19, has never seen so many fires in such a short time, describing these as "very rare."

"It's senseless," he said. "They're burning anything and everything."

The first fire broke out on May 30 at a two-storey house on the Upper Kent Road in Upper Kent that was more than 100 years old. Firefighters were able to save it. 

"The first fire we had was the biggest fire," Armour said. "The fire gods were on our side."

Other fires had to be extinguished in Johnville and Holmesville. The last fire was set at a potato house in Holmesville at the end of June.

Firefighters 'exhausted'

There are 24 firefighters with the Bath Fire Department, all of them volunteers.

"After three weeks of going every other day, sometimes twice a day, it's exhausting," Armour said.

Fighting the two-storey house fire in May cost up to $10,000, including the cost of fire equipment, use of resources from other fire departments, and investigations by RCMP and the Fire Marshal's office.

"The list goes on and on," he said. "It doesn't stop."

The fire chief wouldn't elaborate on the investigation but said charges could be coming soon.

CBC News has asked the Office of the Fire Marshal and the RCMP for more information.