'Could have been arson': Firefighters investigating after Saanich rooming house engulfed in flames
Firefighters are investigating after a fire engulfed a Saanich rooming house early Wednesday morning.
Fire crews responded to the home in the 100-block of Battleford Avenue at approximately 1:15 a.m.
One resident says he awoke around 1 a.m. to the sound of someone shouting, "Fire, fire, fire!"
The man, who goes by the name Xero, was able to escape the blaze with a bass guitar and skateboard in tow, though he says he lost all his other belongings and some priceless family photographs.
"My total possessions right now are a bass guitar, three T-shirts and a skateboard," he told CTV News.
He says seven people were living in the home.
"It got out of hand real quick," said another tenant, Brad Johnson.
The rooming house was completely gutted by the fire and three adjacent homes were also damaged.
"I was asleep and what woke me up was a big bang," said James Dundas, who lives on nearby Simms Avenue.
"All you could see (was) just fire," added another Simms Avenue resident, Andrew McGregor. "It was like something out of a movie."
Firefighters and Saanich police are investigating the cause of the fire. It's something the homeowner is glad for, because she believes the fire is suspicious.
"My opinion, it could have been arson," said homeowner Margret Colins.
She says she recently evicted two women from the home, and ever since she's been receiving threatening phone calls from them.
"They continued phoning me and threatening me and one of them kept saying she could burn the house down," said Colins.
She says she reported these threats to Saanich police, who have confirmed with CTV News that they received those reports.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation Wednesday.
For the next 72 hours, Saanich's emergency response team will be taking care of the displaced tenants. After that, it's unclear what the next steps will be.
"Now we're left high and dry with nowhere to live, and in Victoria rental accommodations are slim to none," said Johnson. "I'll probably be camping in my truck."
The Saanich Fire Department says it responded with three fire engines, a ladder truck, a rescue truck and a tender truck.
Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control but crews remained on scene Wednesday morning.