CENTRE WELLINGTON – A former employee accused has been charged with arson in connection with a fire at Highland Pines Campground on Saturday.
Centre Wellington firefighters responded to the property, located at Wellington Road 19 and the 5th Line, on April 25 at about 2:25am after a nearby homeowner reported hearing “explosions” and seeing flames.
Fire crews found a fire outside the campground shop, and the explosions were in fact the sound of vehicle tires “popping” from the heat, deputy fire chief Jonathan Karn told the Advertiser.
The fire was quickly extinguished and no one was injured, but a dump truck and a front-end loader were destroyed and an overhang on the shop, under which the vehicles were parked, received minor damage.
Deputy chief Tom Mulvey initially confirmed the fire is considered suspicious and estimated the damage at about $200,000. Wellington County OPP officials later estimated the damage at about $150,000, including the shop as well as an “excavator, loader, dump truck and bulldozer.”
Police and the Fire Marshal’s Office investigated and the OPP announced on April 29 that a former campground employee was charged.
Michael Kennedy, 42, of Niagara Falls, was charged with arson, trespassing at night, failing to comply with an undertaking, and failing to comply with a probation order. He was held for a bail hearing.
Kennedy is also accused of bilking Highland Pines out of thousands of dollars while employed by the campground.
On April 29 the OPP announced that they received a complaint on Sept. 18, 2019 about a fraud that occurred at the business over several months.
Kennedy has been charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 as well as falsification of books and documents and using forged documents. He is to appear in Guelph court on July 28 for those charges.