CORNER BROOK When volunteer firefighters drove over the hill from York Harbour into Lark Harbour early Sunday morning, fire Chief Bill Sheppard said they didn’t know what to expect.
All the members could see were flames everywhere. As they got to their destination, they found a two-storey summer residence engulfed.
Sheppard said there was not much the department could do to save the unoccupied dwelling, and instead set about to prevent further destruction to nearby homes in the community.
On Monday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police called the fire suspicious.
“It had been last checked by the owner, who lives outside of town, on (Saturday),” said Sgt. Terry Foster of the Corner Brook detachment.
“While he was there he noted a pile of matches in the house.”
The owner didn’t report his findings at the time, but did take pictures that he showed to police on Sunday.
“So we know the house has been entered, by who we don’t know, so this raises a question that the fire is suspicious,” said Foster.
He said there was no heat on in the house and minimal power usage at the time of the fire, and fire investigators found no electrical issues.
The call was received by police and the York Harbour-Lark Harbour Volunteer Fire Department just after 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Sheppard said the close proximity of the home to others was concerning, and most worrisome was a shed and boat located about 10 feet away. The shed contained fuel and outboard engines while the boat also had fuel onboard.
“(It) could have been catastrophic if that went off,” said Sheppard.
Although the weather at the time was in the firefighters’ favour with not too much wind, Sheppard said it didn’t stop the fire from nearly spreading across the street.
A home opposite the burned-out house was extensively damaged, and Sheppard said the department arrived just in time to save it.
“Within four to five minutes that one would have been definitely in flames as well,” he said. “The severity of the heat actually cracked some of the windows and all of the siding was melted off the front.”
Police say there was also smoke damage to other homes and vehicles in the area of the fire.
“It could have been a lot worse scene,” said Sheppard. “It could have been a real mess. We did what we could with what we had.”
Sheppard said the main thing is that no one was hurt.
“A building can be replaced.”
While the fire scene has been released, Foster said the police investigation is continuing.
“We’re going to be conducting further neighbourhood inquiries as part of our investigation.”