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2 vacant-house fires over weekend ‘intentionally set’ say Chilliwack Fire

Fires in vacant homes increase risks to firefighters, as well as vandalism and theft for owners
This vacant house on Spadina Avenue – seen here on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 – caught fire Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack Fire Department officials say vacant house fires sparked in downtown Chilliwack over the long weekend appear to be arson.

“Both of these fires appear to be intentionally set and are under investigation by Chilliwack Fire officials.”

Fire crews were called to the first vacant-house fire of the weekend in the 45000-block of Spadina Avenue on Saturday Sept. 4 at about 3:50 p.m.

More than 30 firefighters from Halls 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 attended to find heavy, black smoke and flames coming from a single-family, two-story residential home.

“Crews quickly established a defensive fire attack and brought the fire under control,” said Chris Wilson, assistant fire chief with Chilliwack Fire. “The home received moderate fire, smoke and water damage. The quick action of fire crews prevented the spread of the fire to adjacent homes.”

Then just 16 hours later, at 6:20 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5, fire crews were once again called out to a vacant house fire, but this time in the 9300-block of Williams Street.

This vacant house on Williams Street – seen here on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 – caught fire Sunday Sept. 5, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
This vacant house on Williams Street – seen here on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 – caught fire Sunday Sept. 5, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

That fire call saw more than 20 firefighters from Halls 1, 2, 4 and 6 responded to find light smoke coming from the roof and eaves of the structure on arrival.

Crews took an offensive interior attack and quickly brought the fire under control, limiting damage to a ground floor bedroom.

There were no civilian or firefighter injuries reported at either fire.

There is a history of such fires in town, typically due to lack of action by absentee landlords.

READ MORE: 2015 saw 8 arson fires but no set pattern

“The Chilliwack Fire Department would like to remind the public that fires in vacant homes increase the risk to firefighter safety, and owners face an increased risk of property damage from fire, vandalism, and theft.”

The rules bear repeating given that it’s a perennial problem.

“To minimize these risks, owners of vacant homes should disconnect all services, secure, and board up all buildings and make regular visits to their property to ensure all buildings on site remain properly secured.”

Another fire was reported on Sept. 6, that appears to have started in a dumpster on Victor Street at Bole Avenue.

Anyone with information on these fires is asked to call the RCMP at 604- 792-4611 or anonymously through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

READ MORE: Another vacant house up in flames

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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