Smoke was still rising from the rubble Monday morning after a fire destroyed a Ladysmith home Sunday night.

Witnesses were stunned by the ferocity of the flames as they drove by in the Island Highway.

“It is a house. Oh my god,” exclaimed Kayla Gregory as she drove by it.

Another witness couldn’t get over how quickly the fire grew.

“I was just amazed. I’ve been in a lot of different house fires and seen house fires and that went really, really fast,” said Leah Burns.

The house was vacant and had been scheduled for demolition. Crews were set to remove hazardous materials from the home this week.

Kayla Burns and Mike Miller saw the smoke just after 8 p.m. Sunday night and called 911.

“It was just a blazing inferno,” said Burns. “We were more worried about it hitting the trees. That’s what our concern was cause it just went so fast. It was very high.”

The house was fully engulfed when firefighters from Ladysmith and Chemainus arrived.

“Our strategy was just to suppress it. Keep the fire in that area,” said Chief Ray Delcourt of Ladysmith Fire Rescue.

Crews were on site for three hours before the fire was knocked down. Those investigating the cause say the fire was no accident.

“We know that this was a set fire because we found some clues,” said Delcourt. The RCMP is investigating that aspect of it but definitely [a] set fire. We know that at this time.”

It may have not been the only fire planned for last night.

Investigators found fuel in a second home on the property that’s also set for demolition.

Delcourt is upset at having his crews fight a deliberately set fire, especially on that exposed firefighters to so many dangers.

Kendall Hanson