Boarded up home in Langley City goes up in flames

Park Avenue was blocked off while Langley City firefighters battle a blaze in a small, abandoned home.

  • Jun. 11, 2013 5:00 p.m.
A fire erupted in a boarded up home on Park Avenue on Tuesday.

A fire erupted in a boarded up home on Park Avenue on Tuesday.

It’s the third time in less than three weeks that the Langley City fire department has been called out to battle fires set in an abandoned, derelict home in Langley City.

This time, the call came in around noon on Tuesday, with flames already shooting high in the air by the time firefighters arrived to the boarded-up home at 20435 Park Ave.

Smoke could be seen from kilometres away.

The fire is likely suspicious, considering the home was not being lived in. It would be one of several arson fires set at abandoned homes in Langley recently.

“Given the time of day, it’s a bit strange the fire was so fully involved before we got there,” said Pete Methot, deputy City fire chief and incident commander for Tuesday’s fire.

Three fire trucks attended and 15 firefighters knocked down the fire quickly, while police assisted in blocking off the road.

On May 24, fire crews were called to the derelict house at 1 a.m. when fire and smoke were showing through the building.

The fire was extinguished, but two hours later fire crews were called back to the same house where an even larger fire was burning.

The property, which is severely overgrown with trees and vines, is not of much value. But it is located between a single family home and the Telus switching office, making it important for the fire to be contained, said Methot.

Neighbours say the property has been abandoned for the past eight years and has been a constant headache for them.

Transients consistently break into the house, sometimes even sleeping underneath it, and often break into neighbouring homes as well.

One neighbour living close by has recently had money, food and clothing stolen from his home, the neighbours said, adding that they are almost certain it was done by people living in the abandoned house.

The home wasn’t completely destroyed in the fire and a shed on the property is still intact, leaving this property as a further potential danger.

Abandoned, older homes left in Langley City has been a major problem for several neighbourhoods in the City. Only a few weeks ago, delegations of neighbours came to City council asking it to be more proactive on homes that sit empty and are left to be occupied by squatters. The City is in transition and many bungalow-style homes are being bought by developers and left to sit unoccupied.

The homes are quickly stripped of all the metal and anything else left of value. They are often lived in illegally. The properties are not kept up, said neighbours, as is the case with the Park Avenue home. Residents in the 201 Street and 53 Ave. area, where there are plans for a condo development by Weststone Properties, said their neighbourhood has been reduced to a slum.

— With files from  Miranda Gathercole