A passerby alerted authorities after seeing what appeared to be an outbuilding next to an abandoned house on Indian Road engulfed in flames Wednesday morning.
Duncan’s volunteer fire department got the call about 8:40 a.m. and members were at the scene within minutes, followed soon thereafter by paramedics and RCMP.
Neighbours stood at the edges of their driveways as their typically quiet street became crowded with fire trucks, police cars and an ambulance.
Chris Alphonse said nothing looked amiss about 8 a.m. when he took his garbage and recycling to the curb.
“I wasn’t looking too closely but I didn’t see any smoke,” he said.
“When I saw the ambulance though I was kind of worried,” Alphonse added. “I wondered if somebody was squatting in there.”
The house had been empty for a number of years, and had become a bit of a dump site, according to neighbours.
“The person moved the house over there and intended to finish it but ran out of money,” he explained. “It’s too bad.”
Volunteer firefighters quickly set to work dousing the house and surrounding area before more arrived to tackle the main burning structure and mop up.
About 15 firefighters attended and used a couple of pumpers and one water tender, said Duncan Fire Chief Mike McKinlay.
McKinlay said the shed-like structure was actually a piece of the back of the house that had to be cut away in order to transport the home to the property. It, and the roof, which never made it to the site, were never reattached.
The fire marks the fourth vacant house since January to burn down.
Two abandoned homes went up in flames on Duncan’s Jubilee and Second streets on back-to-back nights in mid-June.
In late July a little blue house burned to the ground on Cowichan Lake Road at the foot of Avondale.
In January a long-abandoned house on Cowichan Lake Road close to Kimberly Road went up in a spectacular blaze.
“I don’t think it’s suspicious,” McKinlay said of Wednesday’s fire. “Possibly somebody was just getting out of the weather and had a little fire. That’s the possibility that we’re looking at.”