A 25-year-old Mission man has been arrested and charged in connection with a series of arsons at Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park.
Dating back to July of 2021, the park has been targeted in a series of intentionally set fires.
The Mission Fire Rescue Service was able to suppress most of the fires soon after they were set, however one fire in August 2021 reached 0.8 hectares in size. Helicopters from the BC Wildfire Service had to be called in to douse that fire from the air, and a residential neighbourhood was also evacuated as a precaution.
After each fire, investigators from the Mission RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit and the BC Wildfire Service’s Provincial Fire Origin and Cause Unit attended to examine the scene and gather evidence, which eventually led to a suspect being identified.
READ: Arson suspected in string of fires at Heritage Park
On Feb. 2, 2023, Mission RCMP arrested 25-year-old Mission resident Joseph Kraakman for arson. The BC Prosecution Service has now approved six counts of arson against Kraakman. He has since been released on conditions not to enter Heritage Park or possess any incendiary devices, and has an upcoming court date in Abbotsford Provincial Court.
“This was a long and challenging investigation, which has now led to a successful outcome,” says Inspector Ted Lewko, Officer in Charge of the Mission RCMP detachment.
“Our thanks go out to our partners at the Mission Fire Rescue Service and the BC Wildfire Service for all their work on this over the past couple of years, and we would especially like to thank the community for reporting these fires and providing key details to our investigators.”
Lisa Hudema, Wildfire Enforcement Superintendent with the BC Wildfire Service, also speaks highly of the cooperation that benefitted this investigation.
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“Heritage Park in Mission was identified as an area of interest due to several human-caused wildfires that were suspected to be incendiary in nature starting in July, 2021. Due to the close working relationship between the RCMP and the BC Wildfire Service, coupled with the serious nature of these fires, resources were quickly deployed to this priority investigation,” said Hudema.
“Once the BC Wildfire Service investigation reports are complete, the reports will be provided to the RCMP to support their investigation. The reports will not be released to the public until the RCMP’s investigation is complete.”
Wildfires can be reported to BC Wildfire Service by calling 1-800-663-5555 or dialing *5555 from a cellphone.