Charges have been approved in a suspected arson fire Sunday at a vacant home on Vancouver’s West Side.
The house is on the corner of Drummond Drive and West 2nd Avenue and was last sold in June for more than $17.5 million dollars.
Firefighters arrived at the house around 3 p.m., in time to see a man running out of the building; he was detained and handed over to police.
Vancouver Police say 38-year-old Johnathan Lewis Durocher of Vancouver has now been charged with arson causing damage to property. He’s due to appear in court today.
It’s the 29th vacant home fire so far this year, but VPD Constable Jason Doucette says it’s too early to say if Durocher is a suspect in any of the others.
“We’re still doing a workup of who we have in custody and we’re providing that person with an opportunity to have a conversation with us and see if there’s something we can do on our end but also to see if there’s something we can do to prevent these opportunities,” he said.
In 2015 Vancouver saw just five empty home fires, and Doucette says investigators haven’t concluded whether the jump in numbers is linked to squatters, a firebug, or something else.
“When we look at motive we’re looking at the underlying issues; what the incentive is here and why are people doing these things,” he said.
“At this point, we are considering all different motives and linking any of the fires if there is a relationship.”
In the case of this weekend’s fire, Assistant Fire Chief Peter Bridge says crews found a plastic lawn chair on fire inside the home and holes punched into the walls to allow flames to spread faster throughout the house.
The home on 1.7-acre property is registered to a company called 1784 Drummond Drive Holdings Ltd.
It’s the second vacant home fire in the area this month. Several weeks ago, a fire destroyed a $16 million dollar home a block away on Fannin Avenue.