Ottawa Police Arson Unit investigating $1-million fire in Barrhaven

Ottawa Police arson investigators are looking into what or who may be behind a massive, $1-million fire in Barrhaven.  16-homes, under construction, were burned to the ground early Monday morning.  The fire is now being considered suspicious.

“The escalation of alarms went from first to third alarm within five-minutes of time,” says Ottawa Fire Public Information Officer Danielle Cardinal.

Fire crews were called to Mancini Way around 2:53am; they noticed flames quickly spreading from one complex to the other.  All 16-homes were unoccupied, but firefighters were very concerned about neighbouring homes behind the construction site that were already suffering damage from the high heat.

“This is a highly populated area,” Cardinal told CTV News about the horns used to make residents aware of the emergency in the middle of the night.

Bassam and Rachelle Chaaraoui live in one of the nine nearby homes that were evacuated.  

“You could feel the heat from just standing at the window,” Bassam told CTV News.

He woke to the smell of the fire, looked outside through a rear window, and woke his wife, who is five-months pregnant, “I grabbed what I could, personal belongings, and out the door we went.”

“There was people honking their horns outside, people were knocking on the door, it was chaos outside.”

A spokesperson for Minto, the developer, says residents were to start moving in by the end of summer. The fire damage was so bad; the structures so unsafe, that firefighters were forced to completely demolish the townhomes late Monday morning, a complete re-build will is necessary.

“Fire is devastating,” says Cardinal, “we don’t want to take any chances so demolition is the course of action.”

The Chaaraoui’s know they are lucky and credit Ottawa Fire Fighters for saving their home, “the response from the fire service was excellent,” says Bassam.  The couple feels bad for their future neighbours who were looking forward to moving in, but they also know it will be a long road ahead for the entire neighbourhood, “we were looking forward for the construction to finish as well so it’s unfortunate.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Ottawa Police.