Man faces arson charges after motel fire leaves more than 2 dozen homeless
Published Monday, April 8, 2013 8:22AM MDT Last Updated Monday, April 8, 2013 6:35PM MDT
A suspect is in custody and facing arson charges after an early morning motel fire that caused approximately $200,000 in damage and left more than two dozen people homeless.
Crews were called to the 32-unit Southbend Motel in the area of 51 Avenue and Gateway Boulevard just after 5 a.m. Monday.
Officials say the fire originated in the kitchen of a one-bedroom suite and was quickly contained and declared out shortly after 6 a.m.
Fire Capt. Shayne Page said Monday morning that based on witness accounts and what crews saw inside the motel, the fire was deliberately set.
Police confirm there was a domestic dispute in a unit that led to the fire, which started on a mattress.
Officers say a woman was involved in a fight with a man who was visiting her.
Investigators say after the disagreement, both parted ways but shortly after, flames erupted.
"A male and female apparently had a disagreement sometime last night and at some point in time they went in different directions and sometime this morning there was a fire," said Det. Cam Forstey with the Edmonton Police Service.
"These are pretty close quarters and the residents right beside them smelled smoke and actually did a heroic thing to kick in the door and try to put it out. Somebody could have been severely hurt in this occurrence but he kicked in the door, tried to put it out, fire was here within three minutes and a lot of damage."
No injuries were reported but CTV is told the motel will be torn and re-developed.
Many who stay at the motel pay rent and live in the building for weeks and months at a time.
Officials confirm this is the second fire at the motel in a week and all residents had recently been served eviction notices.
William McNally lived in the building and is one of 15 people displaced by the fire.
"I'm not very happy. I don't understand, this is the second fire in a week," McNally said.
"Everything went up in flames. I have no where to go, no one to blame and no idea what I'm going to do," another resident tells CTV News.
Red Cross says they helped 31 adults displaced by the fire, providing emergency food, shelter and clothing for the next few days.
Police say the suspect was caught thanks to several tips from witnesses.
With files from Jeff Harrington