The cause of a fire that destroyed several vehicles and forced the evacuation of a Kelowna apartment building is suspicious, investigators say.
Investigators don’t believe the cause was accidental and that it may have been deliberately set.
The fire broke out at the back of Roth Towers on Pandosy Street at around 4 a.m. Wednesday, destroying several parked vehicles. The flames were threatening to enter the apartment building when firefighters arrived.
WATCH BELOW: Extended video of Wednesday’s carport fire that destroyed several vehicles.
“Because of the quick knockdown we were able to prevent that from happening. Some of the windows on the lower level were cracked because of the heat from the vehicle fires,” Platoon Capt. John Kelly said.
He said at least eight vehicles were destroyed by the flames.
Resident Grant Steenburgh woke up to flames and explosions.
“I live on the second floor so I’m just about level with the carport and the flames were level with my apartment. I could see this glow through my curtains and I knew what that glow was — it was a fire glow. I opened my curtain a little bit then grabbed my jacket and ran out,” he said.
Aaron Airriess lives on the third floor. He woke up to alarms and the sound of tires exploding. He escaped with the shirt on his back.
“I came downstairs, took a peek out, saw the flames, grabbed a few things and got out of there,” he said.
When resident Jason Blake woke up, he began knocking on doors to alert his neighbours.
“I got up early, knocked on some people’s doors, came outside, saw the fire and went back into building to knock on some more doors and then got out myself,” Blake said.
Investigators believe the fire may have been deliberately set.
Resident Grant Steenburgh said a neighbour noticed a suspicious vehicle in the area before the fire started.
“They (neighbour) said they’d seen an old ratty car pull in between the two carports. They were there for 10 minutes and they left,” he said.
Some of the evacuated residents have been allowed to return to their units, while some like Aaron Airriess will have to wait and see what happens next.
“When they let us back in we’ll see how bad my apartment is. If it’s liveable we’ll carry on. If it’s not, we’ll find something I guess.”