BY RICHARD GILBERT - A fire at a condominium development under construction in Edmonton was set deliberately, which is the second case of arson at a residential site in the southwest of the city in less than a year.
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services came to this conclusion on April 7, after conducting an investigation into a fire at a four-story condo development in Windermere South at 10 Avenue and 173 Street.
The investigation into the fire on March 15 included a thorough examination of the scene, as well as interviews with witnesses.
The Edmonton Police Service has taken over the investigation, which is in its preliminary stages. Further details will be released by arson unit detectives when they become available.
No one was injured in the fire, which resulted in $6 million in damages. However, homes next to the site sustained some exterior damage.
The construction of the 79-unit building was about 75 per cent complete with all the framing done and the roof sheeted in.
The roof was ready to be shingled and residents were expected to move in this August.
Eight houses to the west of the building were evacuated as a safety precaution.
This was due to propane tanks on the construction site that posed a risk of explosion.
After the fire, the president of Cove Properties Ltd., Clay Hamdon, told several media outlets that cameras had been installed around the development.
As a result, someone was recorded breaking into the building and setting one or more fires.
In response, security called 911 and dispatched the fire and police department to the scene.
But, when they arrived the fire was too far along and there was nothing to do except stop it from spreading.
This is the second recent major fire that has been determined to be deliberately set at a condominium project in southwest Edmonton.
One of the costliest fires in Edmonton’s history happened on Sept. 29, 2013, when a massive early morning blaze caused $20 million in damage to three four-storey condo buildings under construction in the Rutherford neighbourhood.
The fire began in a four-storey complex that was in the framing stage of construction.
The heat from the fire damaged the siding of several townhouses across the street from the development.
Cars on the block also caught on fire.
A crew of about 80 firefighters stopped the fire from spreading and took more than seven hours to bring the blaze under control. No one was injured.
About 200 residents in the area were forced from their homes and had to be temporarily relocated on the morning of the fire.
The Edmonton Fire Rescue and the Edmonton Police Service investigated the fire and later determined that it was arson.
In July 2007, a fire destroyed a 149-unit condo complex under construction and left hundreds of people temporarily homeless in the neighbourhood of MacEwan in Edmonton.
Another 18 nearby duplexes were destroyed and 70 homes damaged.
The total cost of the fire damage was estimated to be about $20 million.
Fire investigators later determined that the blaze was caused by an arsonist.
No charges have been laid in this case.