A massive commercial fire that gutted four businesses along the Langley Bypass on the night of Tuesday, March 10 is under investigation by the RCMP.
During his quarterly report to Langley City council on Monday night (April 13), fire chief Rory Thompson said the three-alarm blaze, which destroyed the south end of the Valley Motorsports building at 20579 Langley Bypass, has been turned over to police, noting that its cause had been deemed suspicious. He declined to elaborate.
While showing a dramatic 6:44-minute video, shot by Curtis Kreklau of South Fraser News Services, Thompson described the fire’s progress as it ripped through the commercial building, and explained how the presence of a fire wall, which bisected the structure, effectively saved its entire north end.
On the video, several acetylene tanks can be heard exploding inside the burning building, while electrical boxes and wires on nearby power poles rain showers of sparks onto the pavement.
The chief described the fire as “defensive,” meaning crews’ primary goal was to contain it to its point of origin.
Firefighters made no attempt to enter the building, he said, because by the time they arrived there was no chance that any lives or property could have been saved.
Thompson told council that while it is not uncommon to find a residence fully engulfed in flames by the time fire crews are able get to it, during his more than 40 years on the job, he had never before seen a commercial building so involved by the time firefighters arrived.
Asked by Councillor Paul Albrecht how much water was used to extinguish the blaze — a task which took several hours — Thompson couldn’t say for sure.
He replied that about 3,000 gallons were poured on the fire each minute and that the volume of water was more than the surface drains could handle.
At one point, he said, water in the parking lot was 18 inches deep and flowing into adjacent buildings.
In all, four engines, three ladder trucks, two rescue trucks and 55 firefighters from both the City and the Township responded to the fire.
No one was killed or injured in the blaze, but estimates put the cost of the damage at about $6.1 million.
The video is also posted on the City of Langley Fire Department’s Facebook page.