A home on a property slated for development on Gately Avenue in Port Coquitlam caught fire late Monday night, sending huge flames into the sky.
But the cause of the blaze is not known.
Fire chief Robert Kipps said there was no drywall in the building, which accounted for the intense radiant heat that caused the roof to collapse.
“We can’t say for sure what caused the fire because of the damage. It’s not safe to investigate.”
Kipps told the Tri-City News a call was received at about 11:30 p.m. sending about 20 firefighters, equipped with hoses and ladder trucks, to the site.
They knocked down the blaze in about four hours but it was a big job, he said.
They also managed to save an excavator that was 10 feet from the building and could have melted from the extreme heat.
“That’s the good news of the story,” said Kipps. “The firefighters were able to save that machine."
It’s not known if someone accidentally started the fire as the damage was too great to determine the cause, he noted.
Electricity and gas were turned off and the building was boarded up.
As well the perimeter was fenced and there was supposed to be 24-hour security on site, as part of requirements to keep the property safe, Kipps said.
The now-demolished home is on a large piece of property bounded by Gately and Kingsway avenues next to the Coquitlam River that is being developed by the Affordable Housing Society for 302 units of affordable rental housing.
In addition to the burnt house, there are additional homes and commercial buildings on the property that are being demolished to make way for the new development.
Meanwhile, the city is moving quickly on demolition permits to prevent any future issues on the property.
In a statement from Chief Kipps and Lisa Grant, manager of development services, the city says efforts have been made to contain the site.
“Our fire and building departments have been working with the developer to expedite demolition permits for the three remaining structures on-site to ensure incidents like these do not occur. As this is a large site, the developer has put up temporary fencing around the site and has 24-hour security monitoring the area,” the city stated an email to the Tri-City News.