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Four suspicious fires hit downtown Ridge
A fire bug struck Maple Ridge Friday, torching two old run-down homes, some patio furniture and a shed.
Facing sides of both houses on the north side of Lougheed Highway were turned to charred embers from a fire that started just after 3 a.m.
Both homes were gutted although the structures remained intact after flames were put out.
One of the homes at 22043 Lougheed Hwy., contained a marijuana grow-operation while the other at 22033 Lougheed Hwy., was vacant.
Crews and equipment from Maple Ridge's three fire halls worked to keep the fires from spreading further.
The two homes though were only half of the trouble that kept fire crews hopping that night.
Just after midnight, some patio furniture was set ablaze at a house in the 22100-block Cliff Avenue.
Minutes later, a storage shed in the 12000-block of Dunbar Street, north of Dewdney Trunk Road near 222nd Street, caught fire. Fire crews were lucky to get to the shed in time to keep it from spreading to nearby homes.
"The one on Dunbar was right next to a large hedge, It was fully involved on our arrival. It was only the quick action of the crews that stopped it from jumping to the house. That was a close call," said Maple Ridge fire chief Dane Spence.
He couldn't say if all the fires are connected.
"We don't know yet but it's certainly a coincidence. We're certainly aware of the fact that they all came in within a very short time of each other."
Ridge Meadows RCMP consider all the blazes suspicious and have started an arson investigation. There were no injuries.
Fire crews were still on scene at mid-morning Friday as RCMP kept yellow tape around the houses.
Ferdinand Pagada lives next to one of the houses and was woken up by the fire department as flames tore into the house next door.
"The fire department told us to vacate the area."
He said the house has been empty for awhile and was boarded up about a year ago to keep transients out. But usually, the property is pretty quiet, he added.
Spence said the evening finished off a busy week where firefighters responded to two serious collisions on Lougheed Highway.
"It was a taxing evening for the department.
"It comes on the heals of a busy week, two fatal accidents, two terrible accidents it's just been a very busy week."