Arson suspected in empty Maple Ridge house

Bob Beckett of Maple Ridge Glass boards up an empty house along 227th Street Tuesday morning after a fire took place Monday night.

Bob Beckett of Maple Ridge Glass boards up an empty house along 227th Street Tuesday morning after a fire took place Monday night.

A fire that started in a boarded-up home in downtown Maple Ridge Monday night was deliberately set.

The Maple Ridge Fire Department was called to 227th Street near 119th Avenue around 9:48 p.m. after a passer-by spotted flames burning through a boarded window. Twenty firefighters from two halls and five trucks took almost two hours to extinguish it.

Assistant fire chief Howard Exner is treating the fire as arson.

The house is one of 14 properties between Haney Place and Valley Fair malls purchased by the District of Maple Ridge for $3.7 million to try and jumpstart downtown development. All are slated for demolition. Their gas and electricity connections have been removed.

“Somebody broke into the house and set a fire inside,” said Exner.

“We are responding to a fire that doesn’t need to take place. It puts everybody in harm’s way, to a certain extent.”

The fire tied up a lot of emergency resources in Maple Ridge, he added, including one of its two ambulances based locally, as well several RCMP cruisers and officers.


Kitchen fire

A pan full of oil and French fries started a fire in a Maple Ridge apartment on Friday after the cook fell asleep.

The fire started on a stove in a suite on Dewdney Trunk Road at Edge Street and grew large enough to burn cabinets as well as the kitchen.

The man who was cooking the fries carried the burning pot out of the apartment, scalding his hands.

He was treated by paramedics.

The rest of the fire was extinguished with water from the kitchen sink.

By the time firefighters arrived on scene, the fire was extinguished.

“You have to pay attention when you are cooking,” said assistant fire chief Howard Exner.

A decade ago, gases escaping from a similar stove fire killed a father and son in Maple Ridge.


Butt out

A cigarette extinguished in a potted plant Tuesday started a fire that damaged a deck of a Maple Ridge home.

The fire melted the pot on the deck, but neighbours were able to control the fire on 232 A Street just before fire trucks arrived around 6 p.m.

Assistant chief Howard Exner said people would be surprised at how often similar fires happen.

“We’ve had some very significant fires started by people extinguishing their smoking material in potted plants or planter boxes,” he added.

“The planter mix had a whole bunch of organic material in it which will burn, particularly if it’s left to dry out.”