Police investigate car set on fire in New Westminster lane

Bright lights, barking dogs and tires popping alerted some Sapperton residences to a suspicious car fire

A suspicious car fire has created a bit of a nightmare for longtime New West resident Lorrie Williams.

Around 4 a.m. on Thursday, July 14, Williams’s dogs started barking. As she woke up, she saw a light shining into her bedroom, which faces the lane behind her home.

“I went outside and I could still see the car because it wasn’t totally engulfed in flames yet,” she said. “And then, each tire blew up. You should hear those tires go. It’s like a loud explosion, seriously. It was almost like a bomb going off.”

Williams, who was the first resident to notice the fire, said the sounds of the tires blowing up alerted her neighbours to the fire. She said the “nice Mercedes” was soon was the engulfed in flames.

“I went out and I stood on my sundeck. And then it got hotter and hotter and I had to retreat,” said the former city councillor. “It blistered the paint on my house. I have artificial turf, and that’s all ruined. My plants are covered in foam and a couple of trees I’m sure have died or will die.”

In response to 911 calls, firefighters soon arrived to extinguish the suspcious vehicle fire, which had quickly spread.

According to Williams, one of her neighbours lost part of their fence, and a couple of neighbours lost their garbage and recycling bins.

“They melted from the heat,” she said. “They didn’t catch fire, they actually just melted. That’s how hot that thing was.”

The car was set on fire directly behind Williams’s home, which suffered significant damage. The fire damaged her cedar fence, garage and clothesline and destroyed a shed where she’d been storing the belongings of her aunt who had passed away.

“The whole shed is gone, and everything in it,” she said. “And it was packed to the gills.”

A spark from the fire also made its way onto the cedar shingles on her home’s roof.

“Somebody noticed smoke coming out of my out of my roof,” she said. “It was burning, so they scaled up the ladder and took their axes and chopped a hole in my roof and poured water in.”

For now, Williams’s home is surrounded by security fencing and her roof is patched with plywood and tarps.

Williams said she hasn’t yet received an estimate on the amount of damage caused by the fire, but said it’s going to be “quite the insurance claim.” She noted the house has suffered water damage and may have also suffered some damage to its electrical.

“It’s a shock,” she told the Record. “It’s horrible to watch your stuff burning.”

Williams said she was interviewed by police, but told them she hadn’t seen anyone – just the beginnings of the car fire.

“There was obviously an accelerant because I’ve never seen anything burn that quickly and that hot,” she said.