Body found during investigation at house fire in Coquitlam: RCMP

Mounties are investigating a house fire in Coquitlam where a body was found inside the residence.

Officers were called at about 9 p.m. Wednesday about a fire on McTavish Court near Hockaday Street.

The RCMP told CTV News Vancouver that a body was found inside the home.

"The investigation is active and ongoing," Mounties said in a statement.

David Fantillo lives next door to the home and says it was a very chaotic situation Wednesday night.

“The owner came rushing at our door and was frantic she said, ‘Fire, fire!’” described Fantillo.

He and his son grabbed a fire extinguisher to try and help, as the flames shot out of the back of the home toward their house.

Fantillo says the homeowners are a family who lives on the top floor and there are two tenants below.

“The other tenants said, ‘It started and we can't stop it’. We tried and I just went in and we just started to hose down the side of the house with our hoses,” he explained.

He says it looked like the other tenant did not make it out of the house alive.

The flames were massive, shooting out of the roof within minutes.

Neighbours tried to stop the spread before firefighters arrived.

“Then they started taking over and thank the Lord because our little hoses weren't enough,” Fantillo told CTV News.

A massive response from Coquitlam RCMP quickly followed.

“The police were concerned that there was somebody that was armed. So they made it known to all the neighbors that we had somebody around that could be running around with a knife,” he explained.

But he says the armed tenant never left the suite.

“He barricaded himself in there and there was no hope once the flame started to take over,” said Fantillo.

Annette Poitras lives nearby and says the massive police presence was alarming.

“I saw the police with their rifles. Oh, there must have been around 20 or 30 police officers and it was just a big scramble,” she described.

Poitras says she and her neighbours were instructed to go back inside their homes.

“They had the police dogs here. So a neighbor heard gunshots. So heard pop, pop, pop and someone say ‘Help me Help me. Please help me.’”

She says the fire was massive.

“It was all like smoke. It was all in the back and it was just horrendous. I mean, we have never seen anything like that before. It was just unbelievable,” she described

“Seeing all that in our neighborhood. It's a quiet neighborhood where all the neighbors were shaking.”

Police have not said if any arrests were made but said in an email to CTV News, “At this time there is no risk to public safety.”

It's unclear what led to the person's death or if police suspect a crime was committed.

Coquitlam RCMP did confirm to CTV News the investigation is their file, and not being passed onto the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.  

By day, the magnitude of the damage is evident. The roof is gone, and what was once the upstairs living area is now blackened rubble.

“To our knowledge it will be likely days before we can get inside the residence due to safety of the structure,” said Const. Deanna Law.