British Columbia

'We could potentially be looking at 3 homicides': IHIT says 1 person survived Langley house fire that killed 3

Homicide investigators say they still have few answers from Saturday’s deadly house fire in Langley but revealed a survivor was found at the scene. Police questioned him and he was released.

Neighbour describes family as 'excellent tenants'

An investigator stands outside the burned-out Langley home where three people were found dead Saturday. (Eva Uguen-Csenge/CBC)

Homicide investigators said they still have few answers from Saturday's deadly house fire in Langley but revealed a survivor was found at the scene.

Three people were found dead after the fire in the Langley Meadows neighbourhood — two inside the home and a third person outside. Police said the body found outside the home was that of a man and his injuries suggested he was a homicide victim.

"We could potentially be looking at three homicides," said Sgt. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team at a Monday news briefing.

"It's really early in the investigation … there's a lot of answers that we haven't found yet."

The fire engulfed a home in the 19600 block of Wakefield Drive in Langley at around 5:30 p.m. PT Saturday. (Curtis Kreklau)

Jang revealed Monday a fourth person was in the house and survived.

The man was in "fine" condition, Jang said. He did not need CPR and was able to walk from the scene on his own. Jang said police spoke to the man "at length" and got "quite a bit" of information from him.

When asked if the man was considered a suspect, Jang said he was not.

IHIT spokesperson Frank Jang said the investigation is being hampered by the extensive damage to the home. (CBC)

"We may contact that person for follow-up questions," Jang said. "He's a person we believe is important. He was inside the home."

Police allowed the man to leave the scene, Jang said. No charges have been filed in relation to the fire.

'This is a total shock'

Donna Smith, a neighbour who was home at the time of the fire, said she was watching TV when she heard sirens.

She said she saw black smoke coming out of the engulfed house, which was behind hers.

"I went to my kitchen window and I saw a man lying on my lawn who appeared to be deceased," Smith said. "They tried for a long time to revive him and they were unsuccessful."

Neighbour Donna Smith said she never heard any noises or disturbances from the burned-out house. She said it was rented by people she described as 'ideal tenants.' (Eva Uguen-Csenge/CBC)

Smith said she would say hi to the family who lived in the house but didn't know them well. 

She said the family rented the house for the past three-and-a-half years from Smith's former neighbours who now live in the Okanagan.

She believed the renters were a couple in their 50s and at one point had a son in his 20s living with them. She wasn't sure if the son still lived there.

She also was under the impression another renter lived in the house. The couple, she said, could often be seen gardening and doing housework.

Police said residents can expect investigators to be on the scene for at least this week as they examine the scene. (Eva Uguen-Csenge/CBC)

"They just seemed like excellent tenants," Smith said. "I mean, this is a total shock to me."

A woman living in the home had been off work for a month due to the pandemic, Smith said. She owned a small dog.

"She said she was getting another little dog," Smith said. "She was really happy about that."

Jang said the family had no interactions with police.

Few answers

Jang said fire investigators spent Monday looking over the structure for safety. Police expected to take possession of the two bodies inside the home Monday.

He said investigators believe one family lived at the home, but the exact number of residents is unclear.

Residents in the area can expect lots of police activity, Jang said. Investigators will be there for at least a week.

He had few answers when asked about if there was any danger to the public.

"I would love to tell you there's no further concern for safety," he said after a pause.

"In all likelihood, perhaps there isn't. But at this point, given the limited information that I do have, the truthful answer … is that I just don't know.

"I'm hoping that I will have that answer for you soon."

With files from Eva Uguen-Csenge

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