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Suspicious fires keep emergency crews on alert

Crews in Surrey, Langley and White Rock battle four blazes in less than 40 hours.
Suspicious fires in (from left) Port Kells

Fires, intentional and otherwise, kept police and fire crews in Surrey, Langley and White Rock busy this week.

Three of four that broke out between 9 a.m. Monday and 1 a.m. Wednesday caused significant damage.

An intense blaze at a home on the Surrey/Langley border – in the 19600-block of Wakefield Drive – occurred early Wednesday morning and police are investigating it as an attempted murder. A woman and her two children, aged 14 and 8, escaped the residence before it became fully engulfed. The mother and 14-year-old were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

At Peace Arch News’ press time Wednesday afternoon, police were searching for the woman’s estranged husband.

Following a barn fire in rural Cloverdale Tuesday around 8:30 p.m. – in the 16600-block of 50 Avenue – one man is in custody and faces charges of arson and assault with a weapon.

Deputy fire Chief Dan Barnscher told PAN a large barn housing goats, chickens and roosters was “fully involved” when crews arrived. While firefighters were able to free many of the animals – a number of which then proceeded to follow crew members around the scene – an unspecified number were found dead.

Barnscher said it is unclear if the animals died due to the fire.

The SPCA was contacted because “there was some concern over the care of the animals there, or lack of care,” he said.

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said Wednesday that investigation is ongoing, but said an arrest in connection with the fire was made shortly after a 46-year-old Surrey man called police that night to report an assault.

“Our investigation revealed that… he was not a victim of assault, but actually a suspect,” Paquet said.

Police received that report just after 8 p.m. April 1. It apparently followed an argument.

“(The caller) is suspected of setting the neighbouring barn on fire. He left the area where they were arguing and got onto a neighbouring farm… and a few minutes later, the fire department received a report of a farm building on fire at that location.”

Paquet said two Surrey men, aged 42 and 48 years old, suffered minor injuries “consistent with having been hit with gasoline” in the assault. All parties involved in the incident are known to each other, he noted.

An earlier fire in the Port Kells area Monday morning  obliterated a barn in the 18600-block of 88 Avenue that was reportedly housing a medical-marijuana grow operation. It filled the skies with black smoke that could be seen from as far away as Burnaby.

Paquet said that while that fire is suspicious, “examination of the scene failed to locate any evidence to support an arson investigation at this point.”

“The challenge here is that most of the building and its contents were destroyed or heavily damaged in the fire,” he said.

Finally, in White Rock Tuesday morning, residents of a Thrift Avenue condo complex were temporarily evacuated due to an appliance fire. According to firefighters, it originated from a stove and resulted in minor damage.

– with files from Sarah Massah & Monique Tamminga


Cloverdale fire


Langley fire


Port Kells fire


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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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