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Quebec provincial police arrest pair in connection with cell phone tower fires

Police tape covers the scene of a cell phone tower fire in Quebec. (CREDIT: CityNews)

MONTREAL – Quebec provincial police arrested two people early Thursday in connection with a spate of cell phone tower fires in recent days.

Police said a man and a woman in their 20s will be questioned following their arrests while aboard a vehicle in Ste-Adele, northwest of Montreal.

Two more fires were set early Thursday in St-Jerome and Blainville, both north of Montreal, causing minimal damage.

Added to other cases north of Montreal earlier this week, provincial police say there have been seven blazes in total since the beginning of the month.

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A spokesman said this week that the force’s major crimes unit took over the case and will investigate possible links between the blazes, including if they can be traced back to people holding conspiracy theories about 5G technology.

False narratives around 5G _ the fifth-generation technology standard for cellphone companies _ and COVID-19 have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, leading to attacks on towers across Europe.

The majority, if not all, of the Quebec towers targeted by suspected arson don’t have 5G capabilities.

On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted about the fires.

“Vandalizing cellphone towers does nothing but threaten emergency services and impact the daily lives of Canadians across the country,” Trudeau wrote. “These recent acts are serious criminal offences and carry severe penalties.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020.