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No answers yet to Creekside blaze

Whistler RCMP examining witness statements, reviewing surveillance video

The RCMP is still investigating the May 13 th Creekside fire, although no one has yet been charged in connection with the suspicious blaze.

“The police have interviewed numerous people, done neighbourhood enquiries and seized surveillance video in the area,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Leclair.

“They are going over the surveillance video and examining the statements. There are still more people to interview, including the tenants.”

The surveillance video was taken from security cameras at the Husky gas station, near the fire location. The RCMP is reviewing the tape to see if anyone suspicious went into the gas station area that night.

The fire that burned through the home at 2081 Squaw Valley Crescent was labeled “suspicious” early on in the investigation. The duplex was slated for demolition, and the majority of drywall and insulation had been removed when the fire began at 4:30 in the morning. The power has also been cut off for over a week, so there were no obvious sources of ignition.

The owner of the duplex has since cleared the lot of burnt debris, and the property stands bare.

Leclair said even though the owner did not show many signs of remorse following the fire, he is not a suspect.

“I do not think it (the fire) had an effect of great magnitude, because the house was slated for demolition.”

“That being said, we don’t think he set the house on fire himself.”

The owner also received permission from both the Whistler fire department and his insurance company before clearing the lot.

According to fire chief Rob Whitton, it is difficult to catch people who set fires.

“You pretty much have to catch them in the act and physically see them with the gas can and the match,” said Whitton.

“Or they have to be bragging somewhere, and someone turns them in, and they admit to doing it.”

A fire at the Pinnacle Ridge condominiums July 9 last year was found to have been deliberately set and some sort of fire accelerant was used. No one has been charged in connection with the mid-day blaze that caused at least $2 million damage to four units.

Meanwhile, Whitton said the fire department is still working to amend the current fire protection bylaw, especially in terms of campfires, and plans to bring the legislation forward to council sometime this summer.

Since May 13, the fire department has not received any calls regarding illegal burning in Creekside. However they have responded to calls in both Alpine Meadows and Emerald Estates.

“I think that the residents down there have a new appreciation for the power of fire and what it can and can’t do, and how quickly it can do it,” said Whitton.

“It was an education for the neighbourhood, and I believe their awareness for fire has now been heightened.”

Whitton added that illegal burning is an ongoing issue throughout the municipality.

“We’ve been fortunate enough so far that that type of behaviour has not caused us any major issues at this point in time,” he said.