Durham Regional Police say a criminal investigation is underway after three homes were destroyed when fire ripped through a townhouse complex in Pickering, Ont., early Wednesday.
Firefighters were called to the fire on Valley Farm Road at about 1:20 a.m. just south of Kingston Road and north of Highway 401.
There were no reported injuries in the fire, but about 20 people were displaced by the blaze.
The homeowner of the townhouse unit where the fire is believed to have originated said he and his family were asleep when he was awoken to sounds of crackling from the flames.
“Individually I got them out. My wife and I, we got the two kids first. My little girl then my son,” said Jeff Dey, who is employed as a Toronto firefighter.
“Then went back in for the dog. Couldn’t find the dog. Luckily the dog ended up coming out himself.”
Dey said it was odd being on the other end of a house fire.
“Yeah, it’s funny. Usually I’m on the other side saying you can’t go in or I’ll go get it for you,” Dey said.
“It’s something I’ve seen a hundred times before but not with my van sitting in the driveway.”
A witness told Global News a car was on fire and had exploded in the driveway of Dey’s unit.
“Only the first explosion we heard, but there were a couple of explosions inside the car,” Mario Peters said. “It started off but then the whole house caught on fire.”
A neighbour said several cars were also vandalized along the street with their windows smashed.
Dey said the neighbourhood has been hit by vandals before.
“Whoever would start a fire though, with all these families around is kind of a sick individual,” Dey said.
Police have deemed the fire as suspicious in nature. The Office of the Fire Marshal has also been called in to investigate.
Anyone with information about this incident or have video is asked to contact Det. Const. Conforti of West Division Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 2541.
—With a file from Jamie Mauracher