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Fifth suspicious fire under investigation in Mount Forest

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is investigating another suspicious fire in Mount Forest, bringing the total to five fires in five days.

According to OPP, it is still too early in the investigation to speculate whether or not any are connected.

The first fire happened on Sunday just before 3 a.m. and caused an estimated over $1 million in damages to Wellington Produce Packaging.

Firefighters remain at the aftermath of a fire in Mount Forest that caused over $1 million in damages. (Matt MacIntyre/Submitted)

The company issued a statement to CTV News via email on Monday, saying in part: "Wellington Produce Packaging would like to thank friends, family, neighbours, and community members, for all the support we have received over the past few days. Your care and concern have been greatly appreciated. We would also like to acknowledge the incredible work that was done to control the fire and contain it to not spread to neighbouring houses and other buildings and equipment on the WPP site.”

Less than 30 minutes later, firefighters responded to two fires at a home on Cork Street around 3:18 a.m.

Upon arrival, firefighters extinguished a vehicle and shed on fire.

“Firefighters were able to knock the fire down before it got into the house extensively. Everyone in the house got out safely, and there were no injuries to anyone involved,” Wellington North Fire said.

The fires charred a shed in the home’s backyard and heavily damaged a car on the driveway.

The remains of a vehicle after a fire on Sunday morning in Wellington North. (Matt McIntyre/Submitted)

Police are considering the two fires at the Cork Street home the same incident.

Around the same time, OPP said a yard waste bag was discovered on fire at a residence on Colcleugh Avenue.

The fire was extinguished by the homeowner without incident, OPP said.

“Anytime you have a fire you can’t explain, there is a bit of suspicion, but as they start to accumulate, it becomes more worrisome for not only investigators but firefighters and the public,” said OPP Const. Josh Cunningham.

“A fire can be very hazardous, obviously to a person, never mind emergency responders and bystanders that want to help and assist extinguish the blaze. It’s a very dangerous situation that can cost lives.”

Cunningham said it has not been determined if there is an arsonist or arsonist, but police are looking into see if that is a possibility.

He added that around this time of year, we have the added worry about the dry season.

On Wednesday, around 5 p.m., Wellington County OPP and the Wellington North Fire Department responded to a report of a vehicle on fire in a field off of Sligo Road East.

In an email to CTV News on Thursday, OPP said the vehicle fire is considered suspicious.

Chris Harrow, director of fire services for Mount Forest and the Minto fire department said the firefighters did a tremendous job that day.

He said with the lone water tower in the town dry and out of service since May 17 for maintenance, crews had to switch tactics such as working without working fire hydrants to rely on to fight the flames.

Harrow said they effectively just take rural firefighting and take it into the urban areas so we had to truck water into the scene.

“We train as much for rural firefighting as we do urban firefighting so there’s no jeopardy of safety or anything like that,” he said.

No injuries were reported in any of the fires.

Meanwhile, Cunningham stressed that any video footage from the public would be helpful.

"We're trying to reach out to the public, looking for surveillance [footage], and it doesn't even have to be in the immediate area where these fires occurred," Cunningham said. "If it's anywhere in Mount Forest where someone might see or capture something on surveillance that might help investigators identify someone."

He noted particularly anyone with footage around 3 a.m. when the fires occurred.

Several areas are under a fire ban due to dry conditions. A full list of fire bans in and around Waterloo region can be found by clicking here.

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