Arson likely cause of $700-million Slave Lake fire
RCMP will now proceed with a criminal investigation
EDMONTON — The fire that ripped through Slave Lake, Alta., in mid-may and destroyed one-third of the town was likely caused by arson and will be investigated by the RCMP, the province said Tuesday.
“Our investigation into the origin of that fire ruled out everything but arson as a probable cause,” said Sustainable Resource Develop- ment Minister Frank Oberle. “As a result, we have delivered our findings to the RCMP to determine if a criminal investigation is the next step.”
The province’s announcement came after a fivemonth investigation, and all provincial files, including notes and physical evidence, have been handed to the RCMP.
Oberle called the conclusion disturbing.
Investigators in the RCMP’S K-division Serious Crimes Branch are reviewing the files and will be in charge of any subsequent investigation.
Police could not say how long that process would take.
The May 15 wildfire forced thousands to flee Slave Lake and caused an estimated $700 million in damage. It destroyed onethird of the town.