Port Coquitlam emergency officials fear a fire bug could be on the loose after a string of suspicious blazes broke out at abandoned homes across the municipality on the weekend.
Acting chief Terry Hochstetter said the close proximity and the short time frame between the incidents has led investigators to believe the fires were deliberately set.
"It leads us to suspect that we could have a problem here," he said. "It looks like someone targeted these homes."
The first incident occurred at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, when emergency personnel were called out to an incident on Dominion Avenue at the notorious Pickton property. When crews broke the gate of the fenced-offlot they found two unoccupied 45-foot trailers fully engulfed in flames.
Crews were just finishing mopping up the mess on Dominion Avenue when a second call came in shortly after midnight. Fire fighters rushed to an abandoned home on Kelly Avenue, where a detached garage, known to neighbours as a hangout for homeless people, was on fire.
A third fire, this time at a home on Oxford Street, ignited shortly after 1 a.m. Fire officials were familiar with the building, which had been abandoned for some time and was full of furniture and debris.
"It was so full of materials that... it actually prevented the building from collapsing in on itself," Hochstetter said. "It put us in a defensive situation. We weren't going to make any entry knowing the instability of the structure."
He added that the city had been in contact with the owner of the property over the condition of the home and had cleaned up the yard on several occasions.
The three fires stretched PoCo's fire and emergency services personnel to the limit, forcing the department to request help from Coquitlam and call up members that were off shift. Two fire fighters sustained minor injuries while battling the blazes.
"We started at about 10 o'clock last night and we've been pretty well going since," deputy fire chief Alan Nicholson said Saturday morning. "With our relatively small crew we've been fairly taxed."
Coquitlam RCMP were looking into a fourth fire, which was started at a dumpster at a PoCo elementary school on Saturday, however fire crews were not called out to attend the incident.
Investigators spent most of the weekend combing through the debris and the Coquitlam RCMP said it is still unknown how the fires started. In a press release the police added that at this time there is no evidence connecting the four fires.
However, they ask anyone with any information related to the incidents on the weekend to contact the Coquitlam RCMP non-emergency line at 604-945-0550. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.solvecrime.ca.