Arson suspected in ‘problem house’ fire

Arson suspected in ‘problem house’ fire

Police and firefighters attended an early morning fire at 555 Earle Crescent on Sunday. Firefighters believe the blaze, which started at the back of the house, was deliberately set. Nobody was living in the house at the time. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)

By Lyonel Doherty

A “problem house” in Oliver may not be a problem anymore since a suspicious fire tore through it Sunday morning.

Police and fire officials continue to investigate the incident at 555 Earle Crescent, a notorious property that has been a thorn in the side of neighbours, firefighters and the RCMP for a long time.

Sergeant Blaine Gervais from the Oliver RCMP previously stated that local police have attended this residence approximately 50 times since 2017.

Fire department spokesman Rob Graham said the blaze started at the back of the residence at approximately 2:30 a.m.

He noted they positioned their first truck in the back alley where the majority of the fire was observed. The back end of the house was fully engulfed, he pointed out, adding there was a fair amount of damage to the structure in that location.

A truck was also stationed at the front of the house.

Graham said their biggest concern was the fact they had been called to this property a number of times in the past for being a “nuisance.” He noted the dispatcher described the property as a known drug house, so firefighters had to advance cautiously.

“It is suspicious. There was an indication that this was probably a set fire,” Graham said.

But officials aren’t sure at this time whether the fire was set on the inside or outside of the building.

One person who works in the neighbourhood said the house hasn’t been occupied for a couple of weeks, which was a relief to neighbours.

He said police were called to this property numerous times and it always seemed they couldn’t do anything about it because their “hands were tied.”

The man suspects that one of the former occupants probably set fire to the place, noting he doesn’t think nearby residents would do a thing like that.

Gervais said the owner lost possession of the house, so it was vacated at the time. He added it was certainly a problem residence.

The officer noted there were no witnesses to the fire and no suspects at this time.