News / Ottawa

Police arrest Ottawa man, 78, after suspicious fires and highway chase

A 78-year-old man is in custody after two house fires gave way to a high-speed chase down Highway 417 on Sunday.

Ottawa firefighters try to douse a blaze on Walkley Road on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. Police said they have arrested a 78-year-old man in connection with this fire and another suspicious fire on Leitrim Road.

Photo courtesy Scott Stillborn/Ottawa Fire Services

Ottawa firefighters try to douse a blaze on Walkley Road on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. Police said they have arrested a 78-year-old man in connection with this fire and another suspicious fire on Leitrim Road.

A 78-year-old man is in custody after a highway chase connected him to two Sunday house fires, police say.

The two arsons caused “substantial damage” to two east-end homes on Walkley and Leitrim roads. There were no injuries.

The first arson broke out just after 9 a.m. at 1248 Walkley Rd near the Jim Durell Recreation Centre.

As the bungalow’s windows blew out from the pressure, an investigator was called in, according to fire spokesperson Danielle Cardinal. A man was seen leaving the area in a van, police said in a statement. It was later declared an arson.

At 12:45 p.m. neighbours reported another blaze at 4100 Leitrim Rd near Ramsayville Road, north of Greely.

With the home fully involved, firefighters soon declared it a second-alarm fire.

While they were able to keep it from spreading to other parts of the property – it had a large detached garage and several derelict vehicles in the yard - “extreme fire conditions” forced firefighters out of the building around 1:20 p.m., Cardinal said.

Tequila the German Shepherd was later rescued from a nearby field without injuries, she added.

According to police, the suspect didn’t stop for police Sunday afternoon, causing them to chase him down Highway 417 before arresting him near Pinecrest Road.

The investigation into the two fires continues. Anyone with information is asked to call Ottawa Police's Arson Unit at 613-236-1222, extension 3770.

It was generally a busy day for the fire department.

Apart from the arsons, firefighters also responded to a house fire on Booth Street and a chimney fire in Dunrobin Sunday morning.

And around 8:15 a.m. the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata reported strong odours of natural gas thanks to a malfunctioning heating unit on the roof. Crews helped to air out the arena, and the 10:30 a.m. performance of Disney on Ice was only slightly delayed.

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