Man caught on camera trying to set fire in B.C. forest out of jail after being sentenced

A view of the bridge over Okanagan Lake between West Kelowna and Kelowna, B.C., is shown. (

A British Columbia man who was seen by witnesses and caught on camera trying to light a fire in a forest during a particularly bad wildfire season has been released from jail following sentencing.

Stephen Leader pleaded guilty last week to one count of intending to cause an explosion resulting in harm, reported

The charge stemmed from an incident on July 10, 2021, in which he was seen lighting a fire in a forest bordering a residential area of West Kelowna.

At that time, the province and particularly B.C.'s Interior was weeks into what was one of the most destructive wildfire seasons. The fire he'd tried to set was days after a record-breaking heat wave that led to hundreds of deaths and left conditions tinder dry in many areas.

He'd been charged with four other offences, but the Crown agreed to stay those charges in exchange for his plea, Castanet reported.

The 37-year-old, who's been in jail since last August, was released after learning his sentence last week. A judge ordered him to serve a 223-day conditional sentence, followed by three years' probation. For about half of his conditional sentence, he'll be living in a recovery house in Abbotsford under 24-hour house arrest. When he is allowed to leave, he'll be under a curfew.

He's also subject to conditions including that he must complete treatment and can't have alcohol or go into bars and liquor stores.