Cold Lake, Alberta – Cold Lake RCMP, RCMP Serious Crimes Branch, Forestry Crimes Unit (FCU) and investigators from Alberta Forestry and Parks and Tourism, worked together to investigate a series of intentionally set wildfires that occurred between August and September of 2022, as well as a number of arsons to vehicles and structures in the Hamlet of Cherry Grove that occurred in April of 2023.
In August of 2022, an investigation began into several wildfires in the Hilda Lake, Cold Lake Provincial Park, Ardmore, and Cherry Grove areas. At the time, the FCU and their Government of Alberta partners deemed these fires suspicious and determined that they had been intentionally set.
On Sept. 9, 2022, Cold Lake RCMP responded to a report of a fire at the Cherry Grove Rodeo Grounds where a wooden platform appeared to have been deliberately set on fire.
In the early morning hours of April 28, 2023, Cold Lake RCMP received a complaint that the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints and the Canada Post Office, located in Cherry Grove, were on fire. The Church was completely destroyed and the Canada Post Office was heavily damaged. Investigation revealed these fires were arson.
On April 30, 2022, Cold Lake RCMP responded to several vehicle and structure fires within the Hamlet of Cherry Grove, in and around the Maple Street and Pine Drive areas, including two residential homes. Again, these were determined to be arson.
On April 30, 2023, Cold Lake RCMP arrested John Cook (29), a resident of Cherry Grove, in relation to these fires. Cook has been charged with ten (10) counts of arson. Cook was also subject to conditions of a Conditional Sentence Order (CSO) requiring him to be on his property 24-hours per day in relation to an unrelated incident and has been breached in relation to this CSO.
After a Judicial interim Release hearing, Cook was remanded into custody and will appear in Alberta Court of Justice in Cold Lake on May 10, 2023.
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