A parking garage fire sparked fears in residents at a Langley apartment complex, after a month of vandalism and threats from local thieves.
The fire was reported at 3: 13 p.m. on Tuesday, at the Plaza 200 Apartments at the corner of Michaud Crescent and 200th Street in Langley City.
City fire crews found a lot of smoke, and while the actions of residents and fire sprinklers had already largely quelled the blaze, it took them some time to vent smoke from the building.
One woman suffered smoke inhalation and was being treated at the scene, while firefighters urged her to go to the hospital.
Resident Matthew M., who didn't want to give his last name, said he and another resident saw the flames in the garage and grabbed fire extinguishers.
With a three-year-old upstairs, Matthew said he wanted the fire out as soon as possible. He doused the fire, and then the overhead sprinklers came on a moment later. The parking garage filled with smoke.
He believes the fire, which destroyed a mobility scooter belonging to a tenant, was deliberately set.
"It's just been ongoing for the past month," said Matthew.
He and several other residents said a small group of drug addicts has been targeting the building.
They are believed to have stolen a key, and are allegedly responsible for thefts from vehicles, vandalism, and threats to residents who see them, confront them, or call the police.
Firefighters confirmed the circumstances of Tuesday's fire were suspicious and the fire is under investigation by the RCMP.
Cars have had tires slashed, a van had the word "snitch" written on it, and doors to the building have been pried open, residents said.
One resident described the situation as a vendetta against those who have called the police.
One woman was allegedly threatened with a bat, another man was threatened with a knife, residents said.
Police say they have been called out to the building recently several times.
Of six property offenses at the Plaza 200 since January, four were in June, said Cpl. Holly Marks, a spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.
"There have been a number of issues with the apartment buildings in the neighbourhood for the last couple of months," said Marks. "The Core Team [the Downtown Core Enforcement Team] is now focussing on this area."
The Crime Prevention Team has been working with the owners of the Plaza 200 and the nearby Creekside, which are both managed by the same people.
Videos of suspects breaking into the Creekside building has been acquired, and the police are anticipating the approval of charges soon.
Langley City administrator Francis Cheung encouraged residents to call the police whenever they see something suspicious.
"There's no call that's too small," Cheung said.
The more calls the RCMP get, the more files they'll open on a particular area, and the more patrols and enforcement they can devote to that space.
Residents can also speak to officers from the Community Policing Office in Langley City, and the Langley RCMP runs a Crime Free Multi Housing program, which can offer tips to tenants and building owners on how to make their buildings safer.
@ Copyright 2013