COQUITLAM — It wasn’t much past eight o’clock in the morning Wednesday when Shirley and Peter Howard opened their blinds, only to see smoke.
There was so much haze that it enveloped the entire backyard of the Coquitlam couple’s Cottonwood Avenue home.
They immediately called 911.
Within a few minutes, Coquitlam Fire & Rescue crews were on scene battling a blaze two doors down in the 600 block of Cottonwood.
“It’s not a very nice thing to wake up to,” Shirley told The NOW, from the doorstep of her home Wednesday.
By the time crews arrived, heavy smoke and flames were coming from the basement.
Firefighters were also met by two occupants, one of who was taken to hospital with burns to his face.
The fire was quickly extinguished, while several expensive works of art were recovered from the upstairs portion of the home.
Without providing specific details, deputy fire chief Greg Mayberry said the blaze is under active investigation.
“I’m not calling it suspicious, it’s just that the stories we were given by the person in the basement suite are not adding up, so we want to explore it further,” he said, adding there is no sign the home was used as a drug lab.
Both Coquitlam fire officials and RCMP were on scene for much of Wednesday morning investigating.
According to the Howards, the owner of the burned-out home is an elderly woman, who has lived at the address for years with her husband.
They said her husband is currently in Hong Kong, while the basement was being rented out.
The couple said they’ve known the people living in the home for years and they have never been a problem.
As for the home, Mayberry said the structure suffered extensive fire damage in the basement and smoke damage to the upper floors.
He said it could be weeks before the home could be reoccupied.