A Winnipeg woman hopes surveillance video of trespassers leads to the arrest of whoever torched her car and two other vehicles a street over in Lord Roberts this week.
It was just before 2 a.m. Monday when Denise Hoffman woke to the smell of smoke through her open bedroom window. She looked outside and saw an orange glow coming from behind her house on Arnold Avenue.
"The car was ablaze. The flames were as high as the roof. It actually burned my lilac bush," said Hoffman.
Her 2003 Honda Civic was parked on a cement pad next to the garage behind her house.
"I did panic," said Hoffman. "When you looked outside, black smoke was billowing down the whole street. It was kind of toxic to breathe that in."
She phoned 911 and crews arrived within five minutes, she said.
"You could hear the car tires were blowing; it sounded like little explosions," she said.
She shut the doors and windows to her duplex and waited in an upstairs bedroom with her two young children.
"It was extremely scary. The kids were awake, scared, huddled in my bed, because it's a scary thing to witness that out my daughter's window, who is seven."
She said the fire crew put out the blaze, then told her it was "clear-cut arson," because they found the car's gas cap in the alley and a pair of pliers in the gas tank.
Winnipeg police said at 3:25 a.m., they responded to a second call of two more vehicles on fire behind a house on Morley Avenue.
The police came again to Hoffman's home at 4:30 a.m. to take her statement. She filed a police report and is waiting for news of an arrest.
The next day, a neighbour shared a surveillance video with her of people he said were tampering with propane tanks in his backyard at 3:45 a.m. He lives one street over from Hoffman on Hethrington Avenue.
Hoffman forwarded the video to police in case it was related to the car fires.
She said while she's relieved the fire didn't reach her house, it was still an upsetting ordeal for her children.
"They're very disturbed by it. My little one, the seven-year-old, didn't get to sleep at all that night because she was just too uptight," she said.
Her insurance will cover the cost of a new vehicle. But Hoffman wants whoever started the fire to think about the risk to people before starting a blaze.
"This is a family with young children," she said.
"Would they want their families to go through what they're putting other families through?"
Police are still investigating and consider both incidents suspicious.