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Fire destroys unoccupied home at Cook and Empress streets in Victoria
One man is in custody after an abandoned building caught fire this morning in the 2300-block of Cook St.
The first 911 calls came in around 11:45 a.m. from the corner of Empress and Cook streets, said Victoria firefighter Tim Loewen.
"We sent in an initial attack crew, and at 12:03 p.m. crews discovered a fire showing in the attic," Loewen said. Firefighters were in the process of knocking that fire down when crews noticed more flames and smoke from the floor below, Loewen said.
"At that time, the building was deemed unsafe," he said. "It's severely convoluted and blocked up inside, so it's difficult getting to the fire."
Loewen said fire crews inside the building spotted a man jumping out a window, who was soon apprehended by Victoria Police Department for an unrelated warrant.
"At this time, (VicPD) are holding the man in custody as a person of interest," he said.
Laurie Peters, resident of the 1100-block of Empress Ave., said the smoke was so intense she believed the fire was in her own home.
"I woke up my son and told him we had to get out of the house," Peters said. "It was scary."
Fire crews approached surrounding neighbours to evacuate homes affected by the heavy smoke and water, and no one is thought to be inside the affected building.
Crews are still fighting the blaze and traffic is expected to be rerouted from the 2300-block of Cook St. for most of the afternoon.
More to come.