Houston RCMP are investigating an early morning March 22 townhouse fire on Hagman Crescent as a case of arson.
The blaze destroyed one unit of the four-unit complex and extensively damaged the other three.
“It’s still under investigation but we are treating it as suspicious in nature, arson,” said Houston RCMP detachment commander Sergeant Mark Smaill March 26.
To further the investigation, the detachment called in the services of a fire investigator through the provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner.
Smaill said the unit in which the blaze started was unoccupied at the time.
There were no reported injuries among residents of the three damaged units and all residents were able to get out of the units.
Smaill did dampen rumours that the destroyed unit was used to “cook” or manufacture illegal drugs.
“Drug-related — that was not a factor,” he said of the fire.
The detachment’s victim services coordinator quickly became involved to assist the residents of the three damaged units.
More than 10 people, including six children, were evacuated from the damaged units.
In addition to the detachment’s victim services program, which was the lead agency responding to the displaced residents, Houston Community Services, Salvation Army – Bulkley Valley Ministries, and the provincial emergency services program were involved.
Paul Batley from RCMP Victim Services said the displaced people were provided temporary accommodation in a local motel and then found subsequent accommodations, some with their original landlord.
“Accommodation, food, clothing and particularly diapers, formula and other child related items for everyone were the priorities, particularly given that there were two additional families with four children each who were displaced,” he said.
Those two additional families lived in an adjacent townhouse complex and were evacuated when on-site fire personnel determined the smoke was particularly acrid and plentiful.
Batley noted local emergency services agencies have a history of working well together.
The blaze was first reported at 1:30 a.m. March 22 to the Houston Fire Department and 15 members using three fire trucks responded.
“We’d like to acknowledge the hard work and excellent response by the volunteers for the Houston Fire Department who were on scene for almost ten hours with no injuries sustained,” the District of Houston stated in a release.
Firefighters spent 10 hours at the scene.