A fire broke out in a century-old vacant home in central Edmonton early Tuesday morning and it’s the latest in a string of blazes in the area.
Firefighters were called around 4:45 a.m. to the home on 86 Street near 113 Avenue, one block north of Commonwealth Stadium in the Parkdale neighbourhood.
There have been at least three other fires in vacant homes in Parkdale and McCauley in the past month, including one last week just down the street. Edmonton police confirmed Tuesday afternoon that all of the recent fires are being investigated as arson.
“Officers continue to explore any possible connections between the fires that took place on 86 Street,” EPS spokesperson Carolin Maran said.
All of the homes were set to be demolished, according to both Edmonton Fire Rescue Services and an area resident.
“You can see the houses that are burnt,” neighbour Joe Lawrence said.
“There’s one over here, one over there, this guy. Lots, lots of houses,” he said while pointing to different homes.
Lawrence said he has lived in the area for 30 years and has never seen so many house fires in such a short amount of time.
Edmonton Fire Rescue Station #5 captain Aaron Krulicki said crews arrived to see smoke pouring from the home.
“There was quite a bit of flames coming from the basement of the south side of the building,” he added.
About 30 firefighters were on scene, knocking down the fire and putting out hot spots inside the home built in 1910.
“There’s a lot of material and a lot of junk, to be honest, throughout the house so the fire’s being stubborn at the moment,” Krulicki said Tuesday morning. “It’s in the floor joists as we speak, so just putting hot spots out as we can.”
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services confirmed no one was in the house at the time of the fire and the gas and power was shut off. But fires in abandoned homes can present challenges, Krulicki said.
“It’s dangerous, for sure. You don’t know if there is anybody in there. Just because it’s abandoned doesn’t mean there’s not people inside. So we’re always cognizant of that. And the other danger is spreading to the houses that are occupied.”
One neighbouring home was evacuated as a precaution, but the fire did not spread.
Brad Morrison lives about three blocks from the latest fire location and said he’s worried about his home. He lives a couple of doors down from another abandoned house.
“It makes me really nervous,” he said. “Is the same thing going to happen in my neighbourhood and spread to my house?”
Morrison said he’s sent two emails to his area councillor, asking for action. He said he received one reply saying the city would follow up with bylaw officers, but hasn’t heard anything since.
“It would be nice if they would get after the owners of the properties, especially when they’re empty and being unkempt, and take some action. Threatening to fine somebody is one thing, but actually taking concrete steps to solve the problem is another,” he explained.
“It’s a fire hazard, number one. It’s a danger. People might be squatting and living in there. The floors could fall in, the roof could fall in.”
The fire was extinguished at 8:45 a.m. The cause is not known. Fire investigators are looking into the blaze, but said at this point it cannot be connected to the other recent fires.
Global News has reached out to area councillor Tony Caterina’s office but has yet to hear back.