Second 'suspicious' fire destroys Maple Ridge home

A heritage house in downtown Maple Ridge vacated after a fire in November was completely destroyed in a second fire on New Year's Eve.

Neighbours called 911 around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday after seeing flames shooting through the boarded-up home on 223rd Street at 119th Avenue.

By the time firefighters arrived, the house was completely engulfed.

"Crews did an exterior attack first which means they knocked the fire down from the outside instead of going inside," said fire chief Dane Spence.

"The house was far enough away from the occupied apartment building next door that it wasn't a direct threat."

At the height of the blaze, 27 firefighters from two halls were on scene.

Electricity had been cut off since the previous fire on Nov. 13 when the Evanow family who rented the home escaped with just the clothes on their backs.

Cristina Evanow was waiting for her husband Bill to return home from work so they could ring in the New Year when she got a call from her landlord telling her their former home was once again ablaze.

"I couldn't believe it," she said.

Cristina, Bill and their son Liam raced to the property from their new home and watched as flames destroyed what was left of it.

"I just feel so bad. They've burned everything that wasn't destroyed before - the other two bedrooms, the stairs, right through the middle of the house."

Since the previous fire, people have broken into the house. The Evanows found a window smashed and the front door open last week.

"When the firefighters got here, the front door was open," said Evanow.

Police arrested a "person of interest" at the scene but he is no longer in custody.

"Due to a lack of evidence for police to proceed with charges, he was released," said Sgt. Dale Somerville.

Ridge Meadows RCMP and the fire department continue to investigate the fire as well as a string of suspicious fires sparked in central Maple Ridge since summer.

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