Susan Wafler woke up to another fire burning in her Haney neighbourhood this morning. This time, the blaze destroyed two homes across the back alley from her St. Anne Avenue home.
"It's pretty scary. I got home from work at 11 p.m. I go to sleep, and then at 3 o'clock in the morning I get woken up again - just like two weeks ago when our shed was on fire," Wafler said.
"They never determined what started that (Aug. 7) fire," she added.
Initial reports indicate that today's fire started one house east of 117th Avenue and 223rd Street and then spread quickly to the corner house, Maple Ridge fire chief Peter Grootendorst said.
The tenant of that house woke up to the smell of smoke and looked out his window to see the garage fully engulfed in flames, explained Grootendorst.
"And that is consistent with what one of the neighbours said, as well, so that is where we are focusing our investigation," Grootendoorst said.
"It is undetermined if it is suspicious or not so we are treating it as suspicious until we can determine otherwise," the chief added.
About two weeks ago they had a fire in a nearby garage, the chief said, pointing at Wafling's shed across the alley.
"It is undetermined if the two of them are linked at all and that is something that the RCMP will be investigating."
Ridge Meadows RCMP Insp. Dave Fleugel said it is too early to suggest the two fires are linked or caused by arson.
"It's premature to call this fire arson at this point. We are treating it as suspicious and gathering evidence, and have not come to the conclusion at this early stage that it was deliberately set," Fleugel said.
"We have sent our serious crimes unit to the scene this morning to work with the fire department and part of their mission was to investigate the current fire, but also to potentially establish if there are any links to previous incidents," said the inspector.
Meanwhile, seven people are left homeless.
Four people lived in the corner house and three people lived next door.
Fortunately all of them got out safely, explained Grootendorst. Unfortunately, some pets perished, including a small 14-year-old dog and several cats.
None of the tenants had renter's insurance.
"The fire was a stubborn one, this particular house has a lot of cedar shakes on the outside of it, so the fire gets into the roof and makes it difficult to put out," Grootendorst said about the house to the west.
"At this point we have called in an excavator because there are some hot spots still smoldering inside. With the roof collapsed and the floor burnt through it is not safe to go in with the firefighters. Really the only way to make sure it is 100 per cent out is to tear it down," he said.
"This emphasizes the value of smoke detectors, because had he not woken up and smelled the smoke this could have been far worse. There were no working smoke detectors, as far as I'm aware, in neither home," Grootendorst said.