The Beatton Airport Road fire north of Fort St. John caused brief evacuations and has been battled by 130 firefighters

Arson investigated in northern B.C. fires

Conservation officers investigate signs that up to 10 wildfires were deliberately set

As many as 10 wildfires in northeast B.C. this spring may have been deliberately set.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said Tuesday evidence an apparent string of arsons has been turned over to conservation officers to track the source of the fires.

The B.C. government has tripled the fine for not complying with burning restrictions to $1,150, but deliberately set fires are more serious.

“Arson would result potentially in criminal charges, and if somebody was convicted, they would see jail time,” Polak said.

Rapid snow-melt and an early warm spell created high fire hazard in areas of dry grass, sparking forest fires north of Fort St. John that forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

Evacuees were allowed to go home on Sunday after rain and snow slowed the fires. Crews and aircraft in Alberta and B.C. continue to work on the Siphon Creek fire, which grew to more than 40,000 hectares as it crossed he provincial border.