Winnipeg arson squad probes townhouse fire

The Winnipeg Arson Strike Force on Tuesday was investigating a suspicious fire that destroyed part of a townhouse complex in the city's west end.
Clean up continues after a fire at a townhouse in the Crestview neighborhood of Winnipeg (CBC)

The Winnipeg Arson Strike Force is investigating a suspicious fire that destroyed part of a townhouse complex in the city's west end Tuesday morning.

This is the latest in a string of fires in the city this summer, including three separate incidents Sunday.

The blaze forced several residents from their homes and caused in excess of $600,000 damage, officials said. There were no reports of any injuries.

"This is possible arson," Dale Dreilich, of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service told CBC News.

The fire broke out in a vacant suite in a townhouse complex, just after 4:30 a.m. CT, officials said.

"The suite that the fire initially started in was vacant. We think the fire might have started outside and worked its way up the side of the building into the suite and into the roof area," Dreilich said.

It happened in the 200 block of Fairlane Avenue in the Crestview neighborhood.

Four suites in the complex sustained extensive water damage, and two suites were severely damaged by fire, officials said.

Alarm did not work, residents say

Residents in the complex said the alarm system did not activate to warn them a fire had broken out.

"It didn't go off," William Findlay, who lives in the complex, told CBC News. Findlay said he was woken by "the smell of the smoke."

Other people said they only learned about the blaze when they were woken by fire officials.

"A fireman banged on our door because the apartment was on fire," resident Sean Philips told CBC News.

The alarm had been "checked a few days ago, but we're going to investigate if the alarm system was working properly," Dreilich said.

The same complex was destroyed in another blaze, 30 years ago.

Winnipeg has been plagued by a series of fires this summer.

Three fires on Sunday

"There have been a few incidents," Dreilich said.

This past Sunday more than $130,000 in damage was caused by a fire that destroyed a number of golf carts at the Assiniboine Golf Club on Winnipeg's Ness Avenue, west of downtown.

Roughly 20 carts were burning when firefighters arrived shortly before 4 a.m.

Five people were arrested and released without being charged. Police were looking for other suspects in light of reports 20 to 40 people had gathered on the golf course just prior to the fires being started.

About 20 minutes after the first fire, police were called to two other fires in separate locations on Winchester Street, also in the city's west end.

One fire involved a garage and the other a parked car.

In July, meanwhile, five people died in a fire at a North End rooming house. A woman was charged in that incident.