Amazing videos.....this thing really went up fast.
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$30-million Surrey condominium fire suspicious
Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, October 02, 2008
SURREY - The site of a $30-million fire that destroyed 116 housing units under construction at the Quattro development in Whalley was too unsafe Thursday for RCMP and Surrey fire investigators to determine how the fire started.
The blaze occurred shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday and was being treated by the police and fire officials as suspicious, coming just two days after an arson attempt was made on the same complex at 107A Avenue and the East Whalley Ring Road.
Surrey deputy fire chief Gord Anderson said someone deliberately set a fire inside the half-completed four-storey building at about 2:30 p.m. Monday that was quickly put out by workers and a fire crew.
"That was an intentionally set fire to material inside the building," Anderson said.
Investigators were prevented from entering the site until a construction crane that was engulfed in the blaze and a large four-storey high concrete wall - all that was left standing - have been removed.
"We can't go in yet because the crane and the wall need to come down, so we are standing back until we're able to get to the scene and see what evidence we can come up with," said Anderson.
The fire Wednesday spread rapidly through the structure, driving out workers who ran toward it in a vain attempt put it out and melting the front of a Surrey RCMP cruiser parked near the site. The police officer who drove the cruiser suffered minor burns to his face and neck from the heat of the blaze, as did the workers.
RCMP Sgt. Roger Morrow said a team of 15 major-crime investigators is looking into the fire.
"The cause of the fire is being deemed suspicious. This is a building that was well under construction. Now it's just rubble," said Morrow.
He appealed to persons who took videos or photographs of the fire to come forward. "We know there were people taking videos and photos and we want them to come forward because what they have could be key to the investigation," he said.
Police have already collected video from security cameras around the site, part of a massive 10-acre housing complex that will add 1,100 new homes to the area.
The owner and developer of the project, Charan Sethi, vowed Thursday to complete the building and asked for patience from people who had purchased the now-destroyed units.
Sethi is the principal of the Richmond-based Tien Sher Group of Companies.
"It's very difficult for me to say too much right now. We were on schedule and trying to move people in on time," he said. "We will rebuild and we're asking buyers to be patient and hang in with us and we'll finish it."
Asked if the buyers would be able to cancel their agreement to purchase, Sethi said he didn't think so, but that was a question for lawyers.
"I can't say how long it will be before we can start up again," he said.
He said he had no idea who would want to burn down his building.
"We felt we were doing pretty good here. The city likes us, the residents of the area are happy with us. We've been going through our minds trying to think who could have been so upset to have done this but we don't know," he said.
Sethi said company sales personnel will be contacting buyers. He said the company's website will also carry information.
A company news release said Quattro was a "fully insured development."