Port Coquitlam fire crews were called to the same house twice in 12 hours to put out significant fires, and officials are calling the second one suspicious.

The fires happened at a large house at 3773 Sefton St. 

Mike Pisko, who lives directly across the street, said the first fire began at about 2 p.m., Saturday.

"I was here when it started," Pisko said. "I was helping people get away from the fire, the two occupants downstairs.

"There was fire coming out the basement door, and it just escalated from there," he said. "The side door there that's got the burn marks, it just went up both sides and out the back. Windows started to pop."

Port Coquitlam fires

A firefighter stands in the thick smoke outside a burning home in Port Coquitlam, early Sunday morning. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Port Coquitlam Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kipps said the fire investigator concluded that a candle was to blame for the first fire, and stayed at the house for several hours after crews had extinguished the flames.

"Our fire investigator would have used — after the investigation was complete — would have used the thermal imaging camera to check the seed of origin to ensure the fire was out," said Kipps. "They were confident at that time that the fire was out."

Kipps said a private restoration company boarded up the doors and windows, beginning at about 7 p.m., when the investigator was finished. 

But then, a little after 2 a.m., fire crews were called back to the same house.

Port Coquitlam fire

Port Coquitlam Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kipps says the first fire was caused by a candle, but the second one is suspicious. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Pisko said he was sleeping when the commotion outside began anew.

"My wife woke me up. I was asleep in bed, and she came in, closing all the windows. There was smoke coming in the house, again."

Kipps said firefighters arrived to find smoke billowing out of the top floor.

​"Crews were able to pull the plywood off the windows, extinguish the fire, and once again, our fire investigator reported to the scene," said Kipps. "At this time we're deeming this fire suspicious in nature."

He didn't go into details about how the second fire may have begun, but said Port Coquitlam Fire and Emergency Services would investigate the case along with Coquitlam RCMP.

Port Coquitlam fire

A firefighter gets splashed by spray from a hose, Sunday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Kipps said the first fire left serious damage, and after the second fire it was much worse.

"There will be extensive fire and water damage throughout the whole home now," he said, but added that it was likely the home would eventually be salvaged, rather than knocked down.

As he watched firefighters labour in the heavy smoke and rain early Sunday morning, Pisko's thoughts were with his neighbours.

"It's too bad, right before Christmas. It's too bad for the people inside," he said.