The suspects in what has become a very public animal abuse trial in Duncan were not the targets of a grass fire.

That’s the conclusion from North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP after a month-long investigation.

A neighbour of one of the co-accused in the trial believed he was targeted by vigilantes when a grass fire started behind his home March 4.

His home had also been hit by a stray bullet, leading him to suspect foul play given the number of threats the accused couple had received.

The north Cowichan/Duncan RCMP announced Thursday that while someone did set the fire, their motives were not criminal.

"We recognize that the event created significant concern in the community," RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Tammy Douglas said in a release.

"We would like to assure everyone that, while man-made, it was not started in relation to the ongoing criminal trial and was not racially motivated. Instead it was a fire that was started for legitimate reasons and unfortunately got out of control."