Victoria police and Esquimalt Fire Rescue are investigating the cause of a duplex fire on Uganda Avenue Monday.
Firefighters were called to the blaze, which was at a duplex near Selkirk Avenue and Tillicum Road in Esquimalt, at around 10 a.m.
Assistant Fire Chief Steve Serbic said there was heavy smoke at the house when crews got to the scene.
“They pulled in, did a quick search of the building, and started to extinguish the fire,” Serbic said.
“A lot of collectables at this residence so it made it very difficult. The fire took about an hour to extinguish.”
Serbic said it appears the fire started in the garage and when firefighters arrived, the flames were the heaviest on the side of the building where the garage is located. The blaze was contained to the garage and the deck.
The fire did not spread to the other side of the duplex. But homeowner Irene Brett knew something was wrong.
“I smelled smoke. And I looked outside, and I saw it blossoming, just billowing,” Brett said. “I have a back sundeck, and I ran out. And there it was, just coming out of the corner of the old white house. And right up through the deck it was just billowing.”
This home is registered to Wei Li who bought it a year ago. Neighbour Judy Mudie said Victoria police are often called to the rental property.
“This is a really nice neighbourhood. And really quiet. But yeah, the police have been there many times. They are well aware of the tenants.”
Bill Montgomery lives in the upper unit. He buys and sells furniture and clothing, all stored in the garage.
“I’m not insured at all for any of this. I have no insurance,” Montgomery said. Everything I own is in there. Everything.”
“Everything I own is in there. Everything.”
Over the past four days, Victoria police went to the property three different times. Brett says since Li bought the house, it’s been difficult.
” There’s been many, many police phone calls. And many call-outs here,” Brett said.
And Mudie says police are a constant presence at the residence.
“One time there was an argument between the tenants out in the yard, and I called police. Because somebody was yelling for help,” Mudie said.
On the weekend, Brett received a text message from Li that said, “We need to talk face to face since someone threatened to burn the house.”
CFB Esquimalt firefighters provided mutual aid during the fire. No injuries were reported.
Victoria police and Esquimalt fire investigators will be back on the scene Wednesday.