Chief Gisday’wa with the remains of a structure alongside the Morice Forest Service Road burned in an arson fire overnight from Aug. 14 to Aug. 15. Two suspects have now been identified. (Gidimt’en Clan photo)

Morice Forest Service Road arson suspects identified

Structure, material destroyed in fire from the weekend, Gidimt’en Clan calls it a ‘hate crime’

RCMP say they have identified two Burns Lake residents as suspects in an arson fire on the Morice Forest Service Road from the weekend.

The two males, one 19 and the other 24, were employed in the Houston area, says an RCMP release of this morning.

One structure and assorted material was destroyed in the fire which occurred overnight between Aug. 14 and Aug. 15.

The location figured prominently as a checkpoint of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en during protests connected to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline construction earlier this year.

READ MORE: Complaints of checkpoint ‘debris’ spark controversy

“The area appeared to have been unoccupied at the time of the fire and no one was located at the scene. The Forensic Identification Section was also called to the scene to process any evidence gathered in the area,” said RCMP Corporal Madonna Saunderson.

The investigation continues and information will be provided to Crown prosecutors regarding potential charges, Saunderson added.

RCMP also uncovered evidence during the course of their investigation of a vehicle taken without its owner’s consent but it was taken from an area unrelated to the Morice Forest Service Road area, she said.

“This is a priority for the detachment and could have ended tragically had there been anyone in the building,” said Sgt. Mark Smaill, who is in charge of the Houston RCMP detachment.

The Gidimt’en earlier identified the structure as belonging to Fred Tom, Chief Gisday’wa of the clan.

A Gidimt’en release has called the fire a hate crime and the “latest in a long series of arsons undertaken by settlers, industries, and state agents against Wet’suwet’en homesites that have occurred since contact.”

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