Police arrest man after 14 fires started in Winnipeg
The aftermath of a fire behind St. Boniface Hospital on May 16 is pictured. (Source: CTV News/Dan Timmerman)
WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Police Service has arrested a 24-year-old man after 14 separate fires were started in the city.
In mid-May, the major crimes unit began investigating fires throughout Winnipeg that were considered suspicious.
As the investigation unfolded, officers found a suspect they believed was linked to the fires.
On May 19, 2020, police arrested Robert Alan Ingram, 24.
He has been charged with:
- Three counts of arson with the disregard for human life;
- 18 counts of arson with damage to property;
- 14 counts of possessing incendiary material;
- Possessing an incendiary device;
- Possessing a weapon; and
- Possessing methamphetamine.
The charges are related to the following addresses:
- May 16, 400 block of Aulneau Street;
- May 16, St. Boniface Hospital;
- May 17, 500 block of Leila Avenue;
- May 17, 2400 block of Main Street;
- May 18, 1st hundred block of Litz Place;
- May 18, 500 block of Munroe Avenue;
- May 18, 1600 block of Main Street;
- May 18, 300 block of Poplar Avenue;
- May 18, 300 block of Seven Oaks Avenue;
- May 18, 1st hundred block of Hanna Street;
- May 18, 400 block of Southhall Drive;
- May 18, 1700 block of Main Street;
- May 18, 500 block of Selkirk Avenue; and
- May 18, 500 block of Pritchard Avenue.
Const. Rob Carver said that no one was injured in any of the incidents, but there were people in or near some of the buildings at the time of some of the fires.
He added that arson in Winnipeg is not rare but this incident was.
"A serial arsonist over a short period of time is not something we commonly see in Winnipeg," he said.
Carver said it doesn't appear there was any connection to where the fires started and that the locations were chosen at random, but he did say it's believed some of these fires are connected to meth use.
"He was in possession of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is not a drug that's a one-use drug," said Carver. "People who are in possession of methamphetamine are very typically meth users and it's certainly is known to cause erratic and aberrant behaviour, which is what we see here. Can we make a direct link on each one of them? No we can't, but I would say meth is an underlying issue in this situation."
No damage estimates were released for any of the fires, but Carver said he has heard that the one at St. Boniface Hospital could be up to $250,000.
When asked if Ingram was known to police, Carver said that he had contact with police but it was not criminal in nature.
Ingram is currently in police custody.
The charges against him have not been tested in court.