Richmond, B.C. couple live 'in fear' after 3 suspicious fires prompt RCMP to ask for public's help

·2 min read

RCMP are asking the public for information about two suspicious fires in November and one on Wednesday — all of which happened in the same Richmond, B.C., residential building.

In a news release Thursday, Richmond RCMP say the building is located on Arcadia Road, between Lansdowne Road and Westminster Highway. They say the fires don't appear to be accidental or electrical.

Police say the latest fire broke out Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in a stairwell, and was extinguished by a tenant before firefighters arrived.

The two fires in November occurred within a week of each other. On Nov. 16, at 11:30 p.m., an electric fan used to air out the building was set on fire. And at 1 a.m. on Nov. 19, a six-metre long boat in the underground parkade was set on fire, damaging the two cars parked on either side of it.

RCMP say they have yet to identify any suspects and they're not sure whether the three fires are related.

Trying to move out

Residents living in the building are concerned about the multiple fires, but the RCMP has not disclosed the building's name for privacy reasons.

Greg Warkentin and his fiancé have lived in the building since 2016 and their suite is located right beside the stairway where the fire occurred. Warkentin said the suspicious fires have them worried about their safety and home.

"We're living in the fear ... and it's not a nice way to live," Warkentin said, adding that his suite would have caught on fire on Wednesday if it wasn't for the concrete construction of the stairwell.

He said he and his fiancé were watching television when they heard the fire alarm. As he was talking to a 911 dispatcher, Warkentin said neighbours were "pounding on doors yelling, 'get out, get out, there's a fire!'"

The couple escaped in time and waited for fire crews to arrive on scene.

"You don't know what's going on ... you don't know if you are going to go back and whether your suite is going to be destroyed or not," Warkentin explained.

He said in addition to the concern for their safety, the suspicious fires have caused sleepless nights. The couple is trying to find another home.

"We can't get out of here any sooner," Warkentin said.

People with information about the incidents are asked to call Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212 or the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-222-8477, quoting file numbers 20-31465 for the fan fire, 20-31644 for the boat fire, and 20-35581 for the stairwell fire.