2 properties set ablaze in Matlock, fire official says

Three structures were deliberately set ablaze on two separate properties Tuesday morning on Chalet Beach Road, the deputy chief for the Matlock Fire Hall says.

'Gas pails and splashed gas' found at scene on Chalet Beach Road where fire set

Charlie McPherson called the Matlock Fire Hall on Tuesday morning after seeing smoke over a property on Chalet Beach Road. (Charlie McPherson)

Buildings on two separate properties in Matlock, Man., were intentionally set on fire Tuesday morning, a fire official says.

"They're connected, for sure," said Rick Warner, volunteer deputy chief at the Matlock Fire Hall located about 60 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He said "gas pails and splashed gas" were found by investigators.

Charlie McPherson was out on Warner Road at first light conducting a bird survey for the Lake Winnipeg Foundation when he saw smoke in the air in the distance.

"I thought maybe it was farmers burning a field or somebody burning garbage, but the smoke plumes were [moving] so fast so I thought, 'Maybe somebody's house on fire?'" he said.

He drove over to the source at about 5:45 a.m. and found flames shooting from a storage container on a property on Chalet Beach Road.

Rick Warren, volunteer deputy fire chief of the Matlock Fire Hall, says investigators believe a storage locker fire and others set on another Chalet Beach Road property were arson. (Charlie McPherson)

Two fires were set at another property on Chalet Beach Road a short time later, this one on the edge of Lake Winnipeg.

"I finished phoning in the first fire and went back to Warner Road to finish my bird counts, and then I noticed the second plume of smoke," McPherson said.

"This one was a real black one.... Sure enough it was another building on fire, completely ablaze."

Charlie McPherson returned to birding after the first fire, only to see plumes of smoke coming from another Chalet Beach Road property a short time later Tuesday morning. (Charlie McPherson)

McPherson noticed the second set of fires at 7:15 a.m., and by the time he arrived, a neighbour in the area had already called the fire department.

A shed near the lakeshore on that property was engulfed in flames when he arrived. There was a stack of plywood sheets leaning against a cottage on the property that was also set on fire. 

After the first storage locker fire, this shed was set on fire on a different Chalet Beach Road property. (Charlie McPherson)
A stack of wood leaning against this cabin was extinguished before the blaze spread to the building. (Charlie McPherson)

"Thankfully the fire department got there on time to extinguish that fire, the third fire, in time to save the cottage," McPherson said.

No one was injured in the fires, Warner said, and investigators remained at the scene for hours on Tuesday morning.

Matlock is about 60 kilometres north of Winnipeg on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. (CBC)