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This Edmonton house belonging to former Syncrude president Jim Carter was destroyed by a fire that police said was deliberately set on Saturday night. ((CBC))

The fire that destroyed the home of a former oilsands company executive on Saturday night was caused by Molotov cocktails, Edmonton police said Monday.

Nobody was in the home owned by former Syncrude president and chief operating officer Jim Carter, who retired in 2007.

"I just wanted to say that my wife and I are very deeply saddened by the loss of our home and our personal possessions," Carter said Monday. 

"We are grateful that we were spared any injury in this incident and that nobody was hurt fighting the fire and putting it out."

Carter spoke to reporters briefly after touring the charred remains of the house.

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Former Syncrude president and CEO Jim Carter speaks to reporters Monday near the charred remains of his Edmonton home. ((CBC))

A witness reported seeing four youths running from the area at the time the fire broke out, police said.

No motive has been determined for the attack, but there is no indication that the house was targeted by environmental extremists, said police spokesperson Patrycia Thenu.

"That will come out in the investigation. Right now that hasn't been confirmed at all," she said.

Damage is estimated at $850,000.

Molotov cocktails are improvised firebombs made by filling bottles with gasoline and setting them alight.