At approximately 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18, residents at the Lake Cowichan Mobile Home Park on Meades Creek Road heard a loud explosion and came out into their yards and onto their back porches to discover that one of the units on the property was on fire.
Unit number 27 was fully engulfed in flames, and the Lake Cowichan RCMP, the Lake Cowichan Fire Department, and the Youbou Fire Department were all called out to the scene.
The fire quickly spread to the neighbouring unit, number 26. The two men in this unit did try to put out the fire using a garden hose, but ultimately had to be taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, according to Corp. Larry Olson.
Their vehicle, a yellow Jeep, was left in front of the burning home and thankfully did not suffer any damage. It was moved the following morning when one of the occupants returned to the scene and found his keys and charred wallet inside the burned out house.
Fire department crews were on the scene until approximately 2 a.m. Thursday morning getting the blaze under control.
“It was approximately five hours at this call,” said Lake Cowichan Fire Chief Doug Knott.
Fire crews had to take extra precautions with the dwellings because of the nature of mobile home construction.
“The structures are dangerous, they were collapsing, so that’s why we had to keep our distance a little bit,” said Knott. “They’re so close together that when one started it started the other one.”
Knott added that fire crews spent a considerable amount of their time making sure that other homes in the park did not also get set on fire.
Police are treating this as a suspicious fire, however the exact cause of the blaze is under investigation as the power had been cut to the residence, according to Knott, and the man who lives in the home is in hospital, according to the park manager, Mike Duringer.
Kaz Kojder, who lives in unit 25, says he was taking a nap when the fire started.
“I heard screaming and I looked out the window and from here I could see the flames already. I went out to my back deck and saw how big the flames were so I knew (it) was a goner immediately and that’s when I started to worry about me.”
“I just moved in. I’m almost exactly one month,” added Kojder.
Kojder has insurance on his unit which will help him deal with the damage to his siding and windows, but luckily there was no structural damage to his home.
“Thankfully mine is not a tear-down,” he said. “It looks like they are going to have to replace the siding all down the one side. And then all the windows are melted and the blinds are melted.”
Kathy Essler lives in unit 22 with her four children and her partner.
“I’m a little bit paranoid,” said Essler. “So I freaked out. It took me forever to fall asleep, my adrenaline was through the roof for hours.”
Pat Duringer, also a park manager, says that they have been having trouble with the resident of unit 27 for some time. “He had been evicted,” she said. “We had an order of possession for July 9.”
She adds that it was more about the company the resident kept, stating that she had to deliver a letter to the resident on March 15, asking that his associate leave the trailer park.
“We are so thankful to the fire department,” said Duringer. “They worked incredibly hard. It was such a volatile situation.”
At this time RCMP do not have any suspects and no one in custody. The Lake Cowichan RCMP are working with the RCMP’s Island District General Investigation Section to determine the cause of the blaze. Anyone with information about the fire can call local RCMP at 250-749-6668.