Destructive Prior Street fire maliciously set, firefighters say
Investigation into May blaze handed to police; 'a few specific people' identified as persons of interest
A fire that destroyed two Vancouver homes and damaged another this spring was set maliciously and investigators have identified a few possible suspects, according to firefighters.
On Tuesday, Capt. Jonathan Gormick said investigators have finished their work at the site of May's blaze on Prior Street.
"It's their conclusion that the fire on Prior Street was a malicious fire," Gormick told CBC.
"The file is, at this point, with Vancouver police to identify any persons of interest to try to determine who might have purposefully set the fire."
The fire broke out in an abandoned home and quickly spread to nearby houses, where several neighbours had to be rescued.
"We were very lucky to get everyone out of that fire unharmed," Gormick said.
He wouldn't reveal how the fire was started, but said investigators are looking at "a few specific people."
Although Vancouver firefighters have labelled it a malicious fire, Vancouver police say the investigation is still ongoing. Spokesman Sgt. Jason Robillard says police have yet to determine whether the fire was deliberately set, and they're still working to identify persons of interest.
It was Vancouver's fifth vacant house fire of the year. At the time, neighbours told CBC there had been past complaints about people breaking into the house.
According to the city, the latest complaint came just eight days before the fire, and an inspector had asked for a cleanup order.
The owners had been ordered in the past to fix unsafe conditions, fence the property and board up the house. When they didn't comply, the city sent contractors to do it.
In the weeks since the fire, neighbours have reported a steady stream of scavengers combing the rubble of the destroyed homes for valuables, as well as an increase in break-ins.