Lorne Huculak and his family returned home from a dinner with his grandparents around 8:30 p.m. Sunday to find smoke billowing from a neighbour’s house.
He drove around the block, along River Road in west Maple Ridge, to see which one.
The house next door was in flames.
Huculak ran down the long driveway and, with three other neighbors, tried to salvage what they could from the house and garage. They grabbed gas and propane tanks, and pulled a race car from the garage. They tried to grab other memorabilia, such as pictures, but the fire grew too large.
“We went in the first time to grab a few items and it didn’t seem that bad,” said Huculak.
“Then in a minute or two, the smoke and the fire just got worse, and the wife was like, ‘Don’t bother going in anymore.'”
It was too dangerous, he added.
He and the others wanted to see if a dog was in the house, but another neighbor advised it had been rescued.
Lorne Huculak and his wife Theresa have lived on River Road for 10 years. They heard the neighbors whose house caught fire were on holidays.
According to another witness report, the house may have been “ransacked.”
The fire appeared to have started in the basement at the rear of the home and quickly spread to the attic.
Fire crews attacked the fire defensively and worked for about two hours to bring the fire under control.
The cause is not yet known, nor if there were any occupants or injuries.
• More to follow.