There is no word yet whether investigators consider the Sardis fire that destroyed two houses and three garages on July 11 suspicious, but the file is in the hands of the Chilliwack RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit.
The blaze struck some time around 3 a.m. that day when the Chilliwack Fire Department from halls 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 arrived to heavy smoke and flames from two homes, two garages and one carriage home.
Firefighters set up a defensive response and were able to stop the fire from spreading to adjacent properties.
In addition to the five structures destroyed, 11 more structures suffered minor heat damage. In the aftermath on Friday, it was evident four vehicles were destroyed in the fire and one motorcycle was either destroyed or suffered damage.
“Fortunately no one was injured in the fire,” Chilliwack RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail said in a press release issued July 12. “The Chilliwack RCMP extend our appreciation for the patience of neighbours who are inconvenienced during the investigation.”
By Friday, July 13, the police tape around the neighbourhood was down, and the restricted area was down to fencing around the three properties most affected.
The fire hit so fast according to one witness that working smoke alarms didn’t go off.
“The smoke alarms all work,” resident Rachel Perigny said. “We know because burnt toast sets them off. But the way the flames came through, there wasn’t enough smoke inside to set them off.”
Perigny and her family were awakened instead by pounding on the door from a resident of the coachhouse behind the Safflower Crescent house they rented.
For her part, Perigny said there “seems to be some strange circumstances around it all.”
Their family is now one of five who are at least temporarily displaced after the fire, including a single mother and her son in a basement suite and the couple from the coach house who saved them.
There were no civilian or firefighter injuries.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the RCMP at 604-792-4611 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
A friend set up a GoFundMe to help with Perigny’s family’s short-term needs at www.gofundme.com/z5vpv-emergency-funding-needed.
Another GoFundMe has also been set up to help all five families affected by the fire at www.gofundme.com/safflower-crest-house-fire.
And yet a third was set up to help the single mother living in a basement suite at one of the houses destroyed at www.gofundme.com/help-jessica-elliott-rebuild-from-fire?member=435674
There have been a rash of unrelated serious fires in Chilliwack in recent weeks with an arson at a barn, Banners Restaurant burning to the ground downtown, and another suspicious fire at a house where a man was the victim of a homicide.