Suspicious fire in Cowichan has neighbours fearful vigilantes are at work


WATCH: A suspicious fire on Cowichan Tribes land has fear running high there that vigilantes have struck again, targeting the neighbourhood of a Duncan couple accused of a horrific case of dog abuse.  The trial against the pair drew hundreds of protesters to Duncan’s courthouse last week.

Phillip Joe is so afraid that another attack will target his Cowichan Tribes neighbourhood that he’s refusing to let his grandchildren visit.

“They have enough nerve to do this in the daytime,” said the Cowichan resident.

The air around his home is still heavy from the smoke that poured from the next door lot Monday.

“This is too much,” said Joe.

“This ongoing thing and somebody’s gone get hurt really bad.

“I was very angry when I had a look at it, not realizing how close it came to the house. ” said Cowichan Tribes’ Chief William “Chip” Seymour.

The 69-year-old lives next door to the couple at the centre of a dog abuse case that drew hundreds of protesters to Duncan’s courthouse for the start of their trial last week and said his home has now for a second time been caught in the crosshairs.

Last July, someone shot at his home and bullet holes pierced it.

“There were two shots,” he showed CHEK News on July 6, 2018, detailing where bullets had gone into his home.

He said the latest incident happened Monday as he was at his kitchen window doing dishes after he spotted three young white men walking fast from behind his house.

“There were three of them,” said Joe.

“And I looked and the flames, there was just one big wall of flames.”

The brush linking three homes was on fire and erupted fast. So neighbours grabbed their garden hoses to protect their homes as North Cowichan firefighters responded.

“It was just a matter of 10, 15 seconds,” said Joe.

“And it was really really gone already, that’s why they’re saying maybe there was gas involved.

RCMP are investigating the fire and looking for witnesses but tell CHEK News it appears to be an isolated incident. Cowichan Tribes’ Chief toured the damage Wednesday and appealed for calm around the case that resumes in court on March 15. Melissa Tooshley has pleaded guilty to wilfully neglecting Teddy the dog, who was found in critical condition on Feb. 16, 2018, and died two days later. The co-accused, Anderson Joe, has pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary pain, suffering and injury to the dog from Jan. 16 to Feb. 16, 2018, and failing to provide food, water and shelter for the dog.

“I don’t know what to think if the houses caught fire so,” said Chief Seymour.

“I’m really worried about it now.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact North Cowichan RCMP at (250) 748-5522.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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