Police investigating massive fire at under-construction home in Surrey
Published Sunday, April 12, 2020 12:33PM PDT Last Updated Sunday, April 12, 2020 7:01PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Surrey RCMP are investigating a house fire in Surrey that’s left at least one family homeless.
The fire broke out at a home under construction near 80 Avenue and 126A Street in the Strawberry Hills neighbourhood Easter morning.
The flames spread to a neighbouring home quickly, destroying much of the top floor.
The blaze sent a massive tower of black smoke billowing into the air around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
The plumes of smoke could be seen and smelled from blocks away, drawing dozens of spectators.
“First there was smoke and then the flames, so high, and I was scared,” said Dadar Padda, a neighbour.
Massive orange flames consumed the frame of the unfinished home and the roof of the neighbouring house.
“It was basically a big ball of flames,” said Battalion Chief Reo Jerome, of the Surrey Fire Department.
The heat was very intense, melting the siding of the home 100 metres away across the street.
Surrey firefighters said they knew early on the construction site could not be saved, so they focused on protecting the surrounding homes.
“There’s a challenge with these homes under construction because it’s all untreated wood. Lots of air, lots of heat, lots of fuel,” said Jerome.
Both the RCMP and fire investigator are working to determine the cause of the blaze.
“In a home under construction there’s usually no ignition sources when it’s at that stage,” Jerome explained. “So that’s what the investigation with the RCMP and our fire investigators will try and determine.”
Neighbours told CTV News Vancouver there was a man working at the site Sunday morning. Shortly after flames erupted, a pickup truck could be seen speeding away, neighbours said.
Everyone escaped the fire uninjured, but witnesses say it was a close call for some.
“The smoke was all over in the house and he came last-second. He luckily escaped. I heard he was in the shower and he was very lucky,” said Padda, recounting his neighbour’s escape.
The construction site was reduced to ashes.
Those who live in the home next door were told they’ll be unable to return for at least several weeks.
Those residents told CTV News they have fire insurance, but with many hotels closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were concerned about housing.
Two other homes suffered minor damage.
“It was very sad, I’m sad it happened,” said Padda.
Fire crews returned to the scene six hours later to check on hot spots that were still smoking.
Surrey RCMP are asking anyone with information about the fire to contact them at 604-599-0502 and quote file number 2020-54501.
Tips can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.