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Crews attack fire in empty home in Port Coquitlam, utilities left on

Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam firefighters both responded to the blaze in an empty house at 3640 Westwood St. It's not known what caused the fire but people have been going in and out of the vacant building in previous days.
Port Coquitlam house fire copy
Fire crews respond to a fire on Westwood Street in Port Coquitlam on May 12.

A stunning blaze roared through the upper floor of an empty house in Port Coquitlam on Thursday (May 12), snarling traffic and drawing passersby to the scene.

Firefighters from both Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam responded to the massive blaze at approximately 5 p.m. in a lot slated for development that was located near the Sunwood Square mall — on the border between the two cities.

Flames had engulfed the second floor deck and roof when crews arrived to the two-storey home at 3640 Westwood St.

"By the time crews got there the outer deck was fully involved and into the roof. It was a defensive fire," said Port Coquitlam fire chief Robert Kipps.

No one was in the home, Kipps said, and the building had recently been vacated to make way for development.

It's not known what caused the blaze; however, Kipps said gas and electricity had not yet been turned off in the building.

Cause of the fire not yet determined

And, in recent days, people had been going in and out of the house, Kipps said, noting he was told by Coquitlam RCMP that they were working on keeping people out of the building.

Still, because the gas and electricity had not yet been turned off, Port Coquitlam fire investigators can't conclusively say what caused the fire.

Reports from people in the area say traffic was snarled on Westwood Street, while more than 40 firefighters from from both cities worked to put out the fire. 

Coquitlam fire chief Jim Ogloff confirmed that Coquitlam firefighters were on the scene first and worked with PoCo crews until Coquitlam's could safely withdraw.

Joint efforts sometimes occur when a call comes in that is on the Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam border.

"We received the incident call at 5:03 p.m with first on-scene crews arriving in four minutes," Ogloff told the Tri-City News. 

"We sent a full assignment consisting of 21 personnel (five units plus a chief officer). Port Coquitlam Fire arrived shortly after we did, as the residence is technically in Port Coquitlam’s boundaries. There were no injuries reported and the house was vacant," he said.

Second fire for Port Coquitlam crews this week

Meanwhile, it was the second fire in as many days for Port Coquitlam firefighters.

Two days ago, PoCo firefighters put out a kitchen fire in a condo unit on Parkview Lane off Pitt River Road.

"It was a simple kitchen fire. Someone had a cooking pot that got away on them," Kipps said, adding that four units suffered water damage from a sprinkler.

Kipps said sprinklers are necessary to protect life and property.

"The sprinkler was activated due the fire and heat [and] the sprinkler, while it didn’t put it out kept the fire contained," Kipps said.