Manitoba

Fatal rooming house fire in North Point Douglas being investigated as homicide

The landlord of a rooming house in Winnipeg's North Point Douglas neighbourhood that went up in flames on Thursday, killing two people, says he's not too surprised to learn the blaze is being investigated as a homicide and arson.

'The 'why' is the haunting question,' says landlord of building on Austin Street North

A Winnipeg rooming house was engulfed in fire on Thursday morning. Police said 15 people were inside when the fire broke out and 13 of them were able to escape. Two people, a man and a woman, died. (Submitted by Joshua Peterson)

The owner of a rooming house in Winnipeg's North Point Douglas neighbourhood that went up in flames on Thursday, killing two people, says he's not too surprised to learn the blaze is being investigated as a homicide and arson.

Two people died and a number of others were treated for injuries after the fire broke out in a three-storey home in the 100 block of Austin Street North around 1:40 a.m. Thursday.

By the time fire crews arrived, the blaze had spread to every floor of the building. Thirteen of the 15 people who were inside the rooming house escaped.

Winnipeg police announced late Friday afternoon that a 51-year-old woman and a 61-year-old man died as a result of the fire, which investigators believe was deliberately set.

Police did not release the victims' names.

Alan Grabinski, the building's owner, told CBC News he hopes police will find the person or people responsible for the blaze.

"The fact that it's an arson … comes, I guess, as little surprise. I mean, when I saw the pictures of the house engulfed as uniformly as it was, right across the front porch, it looked like someone had used an accelerant…. I knew the condition of the house, and I couldn't imagine what could have caused that sort of thing," he said.

"Don't know what kind of person does this sort of thing. Whoever set this fire knew that they were endangering the lives of all those people, and you can only imagine," he added.

"The 'why' is the haunting question and always will be, even if they find the people. I hope they do."

Anyone with information related to the fire is asked to call investigators at (204) 986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at (204) 786-TIPS (8477).

With files from Katerina Georgieva

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