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One person in custody after fire in Colwood

May 14 2012
Fire investigators work at the scene of a  house fire on Antrobus Crescen 

Fire investigators work at the scene of a house fire on Antrobus Crescen

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com (May 14, 2012)

RCMP have one person in custody after a suspicious fire at a house in Colwood.

View Royal fire investigators and West Shore RCMP were on the scene this morning rooting through the rubble and ash for possible clues as to how the fire started.

A total of 33 firefighters from Colwood and View Royal fire departments beat down the blaze on Antrobus Crescent Sunday night. The house backs onto Colwood Creek Park.

A 20-year-old son of the homeowner is in custody, the brother of 22-year-old Matt Boyle who was inside sleeping when the fire was lit, West Shore RCMP said. Matt was taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

West Shore RCMP spokesman Sgt. Max Fossum said it appears there may have been a family disagreement with the younger son being kicked out and setting fire out of anger.

Fossum said neighbours told police the dog barked when the flames spread throughout the house and woke up Matt, likely saving his life.

Fossum said the younger brother came back to the scene as firefighters were putting out the flames which is when he was arrested. He remains in police custody but no charges have been laid, Fossum said.

Neighbour Ian Davies said the middle son has long been troubled and had fights with his family.

Several neighbours called Colwood fire department about 7:25 p.m. Sunday reporting flames and billowing smoke, said Asst. Fire Chief John Cassidy.

“We did a very aggressive fire attack and stopped the extension of the fire in a timely way,” Cassidy said.

The fire had extended to the second floor and roof by the time firefighters arrived on scene, Cassidy said.

“Vigilant neighbours gave us as early warning as possible,” Cassidy said.

“One occupant was treated by Emergency Health Services and taken to hospital for suspected smoke inhalation,” Cassidy said.

Deeming the fire suspicious allows police and fire officials to contain the site and preserve the integrity of evidence, Cassidy said. A Colwood fire engine remained on the site overnight.

The two-storey light-yellow house remained behind police tape as RCMP arson investigators and Colwood fire inspectors took photos and examined the charred portion of the house. The worst damage was to the back of the house, including the exterior back wall, and a gazebo next to the pool. The fire spread into the back portion of the top floor and blew out the second-storey windows. The front of the home looked largely untouched except for some burned cedar shingles on the roof.

Matt Boyle was at the scene with his family.

A tall man with a shaved head and stubble, he wore a grey hoodie and tan work pants and looked noticeably tired. The homeowner, his father, Greg Boyle, is in Peru, relatives told RCMP investigators. Matt’s black Ford Excursion SUV was parked in the driveway next to a recreational vehicle.

One family member declined to comment but said everyone was safe.

A family dog, Schultzy, was rescued and was in the care of a relative who came over from the Mainland.

Matt is the oldest of three children in the family. Greg Boyle also has another adult son and a teenage daughter, according to Davies.

Davies said a neighbour woke him up from a nap and he came out to see the flames raging up at the back of the house.

He said it looked as if the fire started near a lean-to that covered a gas pool heater against the back of the house.

Davies said the heat was so intense he had to get off his deck.

A resident of the neighbourhood, Pat Anderson, said she was walking her dog about 7:30 p.m. along the Galloping Goose trail nearby when she saw a black plume of smoking rising above the trees.

“I could see the flames shooting up over the trees,” Anderson said. “It went very quickly.”

Anderson said she saw two men run onto the trail from Brittney Road and one said, “Oh, you can really see the smoke,” which she thought was suspicious.

Cassidy said the fire is being treated as suspicious because of the volume of flames and how quickly they went up.

He also said it appeared to go undetected by the person inside for some time and neighbours speculated the man inside had fallen asleep.

RCMP say they have one person in custody but are not revealing who that is. Investigators expect to release more by the end of the day.

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