Police are now confirming a dramatic fire in an industrial building two weeks ago on Fourth Avenue was connected to a drug lab.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Vrolyk said Wednesday that he could confirm chemicals were removed from the destroyed building on the corner of Nowell Street, and an investigation is now being considered under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
The massive fire on May 2 started at around 10:30 a.m. in the building on the property that is adjacent to residential homes on both Nowell and Third Avenue. Witnesses report hearing a large explosion before the fire started and several explosions could be heard during the blaze. Smoke could be seen across the city as Chilliwack Fire Department crews knocked the fire down, and were able to protect nearby houses.
Dozens of people were out on the streets watching the fire that day, and Mounties cordoned off a wide area keeping people away.
“The main reason we had it blocked off for so long was because of the volatile nature of the chemicals,” Vrolyk said.
He could not confirm whether the drug lab in the building was for making crystal meth or MDMA (Ecstasy) or some other illicit material, just that chemicals were found that are used to make synthetic drugs.
The business at the location is Target Steel and Sea Container, but several people suggested there was another business in operation in the building, something Vrolyk could not confirm.
Speculation that the fire was a drug lab was immediate as officers in hazmat suits entered the rubble at least twice, and several officers from the drug squad were on scene investigating.
On the day of the fire there was a report that a vehicle was involved, a detail later said to be inaccurate, according to authorities. And while Vrolyk confirmed there was no vehicle involved in the explosion and the cause is not linked to a vehicle, police are looking into a witness report from before the fire.
“We are investigating reports that a vehicle may have left the scene at the time or shortly after the explosion,” Vrolyk said.