If not for a Saanich Police officer’s presence in the area on Sunday morning a vacant residence on Short Street would likely have burnt to a far greater degree.
The officer was on patrol in the area of Uptown when they called in the structure fire at 5:27 a.m. for the boarded-up, two-storey residential home at 851 Short St.
“The officer witnessed an extensive amount of smoke, [with a section of the house] engulfed in smoke and flames,” said Saanich Police Sgt. Steve Eassie. “It appeared at some point someone had entered the home through a boarded-up entry but we don’t know when.”
Saanich Fire responded with a command unit, two engines, two ladder trucks, a rescue unit and 18 firefighters and encountered heavy smoke and fire. They were able to identify the “seat of the fire” and extinguished it immediately, Saanich Fire said in a release.
Neighbouring residents occupying the house immediately adjacent were evacuated temporarily. The home is one of five single-family dwellings remaining on Short Street, which features condo and commercial developments.
Eassie confirmed the residence has been without electricity since 2014.
Saanich Fire Department responded to a Ten Mile Point house fire on Monday afternoon in the 3700 block of Arbutus Ridge.
Damage is estimated at $300,000 for the single family home, which was filled with thick smoke. Crews extinguished the base of the fire and remained on scene for two hours locating and extinguishing hot spots.
The house was unoccupied at the time. It’s believed the fire started at the centre of the house and was limited by a lack of oxygen.
It is under investigation at this time.
The two fires join a short list of Saanich’s bigger fires from 2015. An October fire gutted the carport and damaged parts of a home on Cedar Hill Cross Road. The playground at Copley Park was struck by arsonists twice in the early summer, with the second incident so hot it levelled the metal. A fire also broke out at the scene of a likely murder-suicide on the 4900 block of Cordova Bay Road in April. A Gorge neighbourhood fire on Austin Avenue from September 2014 also remains unsolved.