Fire gutted a house in Emerald suspected of containing a grow op Saturday (Feb. 8) morning.
Crews arrived on scene just after 6:30 a.m. after a neighbour spotted smoke coming from the house in the 9300-block of Emerald Drive and called 911.
“It was confirmed by RCMP that (the house) was under suspicion of being a grow op,” said Whistler Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood. “Based on that, the crews didn’t make an interior attack and we went to a defensive mode. We’re not putting any crews inside the house, putting them in danger. First priority really is to ensure the house to the sides of it didn’t catch on fire.”
Around 30 fire fighters were called to the scene. The cold temperatures caused trouble with fire hydrants and gear freezing. “It makes it an extra difficult job for the crews,” Kirkwood said. “We’re rotating crews in and out. It’s going to be a long day. Likely, we’ll be bringing in an excavator to pull the house down.”
No one was injured in the blaze. BC Hydro temporarily cut power to the neighbourhood, but it was restored by late morning.
“We suspected (it was a grow op) for a while,” said neighbour Dennis van Dongen, who is also a volunteer fire fighter and was helping on scene. “BC Hydro (has been) here measuring power on the lines. I asked, ‘What are you guys doing?’ but they couldn’t say.”
Van Dongen’s tenant, Melanie Schumacher, first spotted the fire after driving her husband to work earlier that morning. After calling police, she leapt into action, notifying neighbours on either side of the burning house.
“I could see a bit of smoke in the bush near the street coming onto the road,” she said. “I parked the car and thought, ‘I should check it out.’ I went to the back and saw it was in the back of the house. It was so surreal. I ran down to the road, called 911, notified them and thought, ‘I’ll go knock on the door and the side people’s houses because with the wind you never know.’ There was nobody in the (burning) house. Everybody next door had woken up.”
RCMP have not yet been available to comment. More to come.