Arson suspected in B.C. condo blaze

RCMP in B.C.'s Columbia Valley are seeking the public's help to try to determine what or who sparked a fire that destroyed an abandoned, partly built condo project over the holidays.
The partly built condo project burned so intensely firefighters couldn't get near it, the local fire chief says. (Kate Irwin/The Columbia Valley Pioneer)

RCMP in B.C.’s Columbia Valley are trying to determine what sparked a spectacular fire over the holiday season that gutted five condos under construction.

Arson is suspected in the fire at the half-finished Columbia Eagle condo complex in Fairmont on Dec. 22.

Construction on the luxury five-condo project began about six years ago, but then the vacation housing market collapsed.

The weathered framed buildings sat like skeletons by the highway for years.

"The buildings are unfinished and quite dried out and they just went up like candles,"  said fire chief Jim Miller.

Miller said the blaze was so intense that firefighters had a hard time getting anywhere near the building.

Police immediately suspected arson.

"Given the fact there is no [electrical] power there, there is no source of ignition of any kind," said Miller.

Miller said it may never be know what started the fire because all five condos burned to the ground, leaving little evidence for investigators.

The RCMP are asking the public to call if they saw anything suspicious in the area on the Saturday before Christmas.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating