Saanich rooming house fire no longer considered suspicious, say police

Saanich rooming house fire no longer considered suspicious, say police
WatchEarlier this week a dramatic Saanich house fire left multiple people displaced and investigators still searching for answers. Kevin Charach has the latest on what's next for the tenants and how a home renovation proved to be life-saving.

A Wednesday morning house fire that displaced multiple residents is no longer being treated as suspicious by police.

The fire happened at a Saanich rooming house on Battleford Avenue early Wednesday morning. Residents say the fire was at a full inferno by 1:30 a.m.

The fire was being investigated by police but is no longer after officers didn’t find any evidence of foul play and have handed it over to Saanich Fire Department.

“Detectives with our Major Crime Unit have been investigating the fire on Battleford Avenue since August 11 and have concluded that there was no criminality surrounding what caused the fire,” said Cst. Markus Anastasiades, public information and communications officer with Saanich Police. “Furthermore, all persons believed to be residing at the home have been accounted for.”

Saanich Fire says the damage caused by the fire could have been much worse if it wasn’t for the homeowner making some key renovations to the house.

Earlier this year, Saanich Fire conducted a safety inspection on the home, determining a basement room window was too small in the event of a fire. The homeowner proceeded to replace it with a larger window which proved to be life-saving on Wednesday, as a man, woman and their dog used it to climb out to safety, according to the Saanich Fire dept.

Saanich Fire have yet to announce a cause of the fire and say this structure fire investigation is particularly challenging due to the amount of debris, the current heat wave and the structural integrity of the building which poses a safety risk for investigators.

Bradley Johnson and roommate who goes by ‘J’ were two of the people living in the house. They have been spending the last three nights in temporary housing at the University of Victoria, set-up by the volunteer-run Saanich Emergency Program.

Despite the damage and loss of possessions, the two are trying to stay positive in the aftermath.

“There’s no denying this, anger does nothing, I can’t make a deal and I am at peace,” said J.

Johnson is thankful to the City of Saanich for helping with temporary housing, food and clothes. Despite the difficult week, he also feels lucky to be alive.

“It’s pretty amazing that we did get out,” said Johnson. “I feel blessed that we’re still here.”

The two will spend the next three nights in a hotel thanks to the Canadian Red Cross. After that, however, the future is filled with uncertainty.

“You know, it’s a big question mark what’s gonna happen,” said Johnson.

‘J’ says he may be able to temporarily stay with a friend until September, but believes he’ll likely end up moving back to Ontario to live with his mother.

As for Johnson, with limited finances and a competitive rental market, he believes he’ll likely have to sleep in his car until he finds a permanent home.

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READ MORE: West Shore RCMP say Colwood house fire is possible case of arson


Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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