Boarded up house fire ‘suspicious’

Boarded up house fire ‘suspicious’

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Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

Tuesday night’s house fire on Station Street is being investigated as “suspicious.”

Video surveillance shows a young man running towards the north side of the building and then running away from the building before the fire occurred on the property between Oliver Eats and Structurlam at 10:30 p.m.

The fire partially gutted the inside of the home that was unoccupied.

“The fire is suspicious,” said Rob Graham, media relations officer for the Oliver Fire Department. “No actual point (of origin) has been determined, but a burned area will be looked at.”

Graham said the fire was a challenge because they couldn’t initially gain access due to the building being boarded up, with bars on the windows.

Being a stucco finish helped to keep the fire from spreading, he noted, adding that crews managed to knock it down quickly and protect the adjacent business (Oliver Eats).

If the fire had progressed and grown hotter, the radiant heat may have affected the lumber at Structurlam, Graham pointed out. But arriving there quickly prevented that scenario, he said.

Sergeant Blaine Gervais of the Oliver RCMP said the cause of the fire is still officially unknown but they are collecting and analyzing video from a nearby business.

Oliver Eats proprietor Derek Uhlemann said it was definitely a close call, noting the fire caused minor damage to his building by compromising the integrity of one door.

Uhlemann said the fire department was “top notch” with their response time and communication during the incident. He noted the community is truly fortunate to have such a skilled group.

Uhlemann has video surveillance around the building and showed the Chronicle footage of two people walking by before the fire started. Then you see a young man apparently running towards the house and then running away But it’s unclear if police can use the video to identify a suspect.

Meanwhile, Police are still investigating a fire that occurred in some bushes behind Oliver United Church last Friday. They suspect that bird bangers were used to start the blaze that burned a neighbour’s fence.

Moving forward, Uhlemann said the gutted building beside his eatery will likely be demolished, and he’s hoping that will pave the way for more businesses to revitalize Station Street.

Diane Vaykovich, the town’s corporate officer, said the building that burned at 6048 Station Street is locally owned. When asked about the history of the property, she said they don’t have any record of complaints.

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