An RCMP officer takes photos on May 3, 2019 outside a building that was the scene of a dramatic fire on Nowell and Fourth in Chilliwack on May 2. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

UPDATE: RCMP still silent on cause of last Thursday’s dramatic fire

Heavy police presence for 48 hours after blaze at property that was treated like a crime scene

Officials are saying nothing yet about the possible cause of last Thursday’s massive fire in an industrial building on Fourth Avenue but the site was of obvious interest to RCMP investigators.

The dramatic fire started at around 10:30 a.m. on May 2 in a building at the corner of Fourth and Nowell Street adjacent to the residential neighbourhood.

As Chilliwack Fire Department crews arrived on scene, the eastern edge of the building was fully involved. Over the course of at least an hour as firefighters battled the blaze, several explosions could be heard coming from inside.

• READ MORE: UPDATE w/ VIDEO: Explosions heard during dramatic blaze at Chilliwack industrial building

The fire eventually spread until the entire structure was consumed. Because of the intense heat, smoke and explosions, the RCMP pushed onlookers a considerable distance away.

The business at the location is Target Steel and Sea Container. The company customizes steel containers for shipping and storage, work that involves welding, but there has been a suggestion that another business operated out of the east side of the building.

Chilliwack Fire Department crews battle an industrial building at the corner of Nowell Street and Fourth Avenue that started at around 10:30 a.m. on May 2, 2019. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Speculation over what was actually inside has grown as several RCMP investigation units were on the scene for more than 48 hours. Officers in hazmat suits entered the rubble at least twice, and several officers from the drug squad were on scene.

Still, police are saying little about the investigation, which is said to still be in the early stages. Asked if the intense police scrutiny was because there was a drug lab of some kind, Chilliwack RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail said that would be speculation.

“That’s all part of the investigation,” Rail said.

One officer on the scene Friday said he could not comment, but suggested that police were “very interested” in the property.

Smoke from the large fire could be seen across the city as it burned until the afternoon on Thursday. BC Hydro shut down power to the area, but it was back up before the end of the day.

The fire was so intense that after it was put out Thursday afternoon, it took more than 24 hours before investigators could get into the destroyed structure.

Anyone with information about this fire is asked to call the RCMP at 604-792-4611 or anonymously through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or www.upperfraservalleycrimestoppers.ca

• RELATED: Crews deal with major clean-up following two massive industrial fires in Chilliwack


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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One day later, several RCMP officers were on the scene doing preliminary investigation outside the building destroyed by fire May 2, 2019. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Neighbours watch as Chilliwack Fire Department crews battle an industrial building at the corner of Nowell Street and Fourth Avenue that started at around 11 a.m. on May 2, 2019. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

An RCMP officer walks south on Nowell Street on May 3, 2019 by Target Steel and Sea Container, which was destroyed by fire a day before. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Chilliwack Fire Department crews battle an industrial building at the corner of Nowell Street and Fourth Avenue that started at around 11 a.m. on May 2, 2019. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Fire crews battle an industrial fire at the corner of Nowell Street and Fourth Avenue Thursday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

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