The cost of dozens of Langley Township firefighters putting out a blaze at an empty home will be charged back to the owner. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

The cost of dozens of Langley Township firefighters putting out a blaze at an empty home will be charged back to the owner. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Vacant home’s owner to be charged for firefighting effort

The house wasn’t properly secured when the fire took place, Township alleges

The cost of fighting a fire in a vacant Brookswood home last month is being charged back to the property owner, because the building wasn’t secured properly, according to Langley Township.

The fire struck an empty house on a South Brookswood acreage on 200th Street near 20th Avenue.

It took 30 Township firefighters with six vehicles several hours to douse and mop up the last of the flames, starting at 6 a.m. on April 26.

With the house empty and with no gas or electrical connections, the cause of the fire was most likely arson, said Township deputy fire chief Bruce Ferguson.

“It was a vacant house that had been boarded up previously,” Ferguson told the Langley Advance Times. “Somebody got in there and set it on fire.”

The fire could have been deliberately set, or an accident caused by squatters setting a fire to keep warm or cook.

READ MORE: Residential fire shuts down 200th Street

Now the entire cost of the emergency response is being charged back to the landowners. The Township has regulations in place about properly securing abandoned properties, including boarding up and securing empty buildings.

“The safety of the Township is everyone’s responsibility,” said Bill Storie, senior advisor to council.

He said the incident is a reminder to owners that they are required to monitor and maintain their property, even if it is deserted, and for residents to be diligent and report any suspicious activity they may notice in their neighbourhood.

The home was surrounded by deserted RVs, boats, and “piles and piles of garbage,” according to Ferguson, and the debris helped the blaze spread.

When firefighters arrived, they didn’t even know how long the fire had been burning before someone noticed and called it in.

“Property owners of vacant structures are required to ensure they are secure and remain secure against unauthorized entry,” said Ruby Senghera, the Township’s bylaws manager. Property owners who fail to do so may be fined $500 per day and charged fees for Township resources, such as firefighters and inspectors.

When an abandoned building is identified, bylaw officers issue a letter to the owner, stating that the property needs to be boarded up and secured within a certain timeframe, Senghera said. Whether the property is waiting to be redeveloped, or the owners are living elsewhere, under Community Standards Bylaw No. 5448, property must be made secure against unauthorized entry or occupation, vandalism or other intentional damage, or fire hazard.

Members of the public who have any concerns about a vacant house are asked to contact Bylaws at 604-534-3211 or

“If you see a light on or notice people coming and going when they shouldn’t be, even if you simply haven’t seen the occupants of a home living there for some time, let the Township know and we can investigate,” Storie said.

Securing abandoned buildings is also required through Fire Prevention Bylaw No. 4956, to protect the property, surrounding areas, and emergency responders. Those who do not follow the requirements can find themselves on the hook financially: if a fire occurs, cost recovery can be sought by the Fire Department from property owners.

“It can get very costly,” said Ferguson, noting that a fire engine and crew costs $600 per hour, and the use of a quint – which serves the dual purpose of an engine and a ladder truck – and crew costs over $1,300 per hour.

Anyone who notices smoke or flames should immediately call 911.

firefightersLangleyLangley Township

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Health has announced another COVID exposure at Brookswood Secondary. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Two elementaries added to Brookswood in latest Langley schools with COVID exposure

Three school alerts Monday follow on the heels of five issued this past weekend

Fort Langley’s proposed new truck route is outlined in red. It would move most truck traffic around the village of Fort Langley. (Langley Township Engineering/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Fort Langley truck route plans to be decided in 2021

Township council will decide on the project during the budget process next year

(Black Press Media files)
A call for Aldergrove Christmas lights

Send in pictures and addresses so others can see your holiday display

Langley Township and City provide garbage receptacles where people can deposit their bags of dog poop instead of tossing the bags into bushes. (Langley Advance Times)
LETTER: Langley letter writer dumps on irresponsible dog owners

People who don’t clean up their dogs poop or who toss the bags in the bushes irk local resident

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read