Three students fined for arson at Rick Hansen Secondary will not be criminally charged

Damage following an arson at Rick Hansen Secondary last month included the towel dispenser. - Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service
Damage following an arson at Rick Hansen Secondary last month included the towel dispenser.
— image credit: Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service

Three teens fined $500 each this week for setting a fire at Rick Hansen Seconday last month will not be criminally charged.

Const. Ian MacDonald said Abbotsford Police, which investigated the case, opted not to lay arson charges in lieu of disciplinary action taken by the school district in consultation with the boys' parents.

Dave Stephen, communications manager with the school district, said the students have been suspended and "continue to be under review."

The trio – all Grade 12 students from W. J. Mouat Secondary – were fined this week by Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS), which is also considering whether it will try to recoup from them the costs of sending fire crews and investigators to the scene.

Fire prevention officer Steve Oldroyd said this would amount to about $1,000 and is similar to what occurred to three other teens last year after they set off a false fire alarm at Rick Hansen Secondary. In that case, each culprit was charged about $300 or $400.

Oldroyd said AFRS wants young people to know, particularly at this time of year when grad pranks are prevalent, that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

"We want to send a message that we have zero tolerance for fire-setting (and setting fire alarms)," he said.

The recent incident occurred on March 10, when the trio used a lighter to set flammable materials – such as paper, plastic and towel dispensers – on fire in a Rick Hansen restroom.

The entire school was evacuated when the fire alarm was activated. School staff had put out the fire by the time AFRS arrived on scene.

Damage was estimated at several thousand dollars.

The culprits were tracked down after a witness saw them leaving the school, recorded the licence plate of the car they drove away in and reported them to police.



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