'Boom, boom, boom': London police and fire investigating suspicious car fire in parking garage

Heavy smoke and loud explosions woke up a number of residents in a high-rise apartment building Saturday morning at 50 Capulet Lane in London, Ont.

A fire broke out in the parking garage next to their building.

“It was like boom, boom, boom,” said Arwa Almardy who lives in the building. “I woke up and then I saw lots of smoke coming through my window, then there was like ten big booms.”

Almardy described the black smoke as “terrible” and says it made her niece cough when it came through her window.

“I don't recognize what an explosion sounds like, but it was really loud,” added Patricia Pigott, who could see the smoke pouring out of the garage.

What they heard was a car catching fire, and then spreading to the two adjacent vehicles.

“They heard the tires exploding, popping and freaked a lot of people out, of course,” said District Chief Kevin Culbertson of the London Fire Department.

“With the building right next to it, the smoke was going right up the side of the building on the west side. So yeah, it definitely probably [looked] to those people like their building was on fire,” he added.

London fire station six, which is just around the corner on Oxford Street, responded within minutes. But with so much smoke and the cars parked underneath, it made it difficult to locate.

“There's no ventilation readily available,” said Culbertson. “So we used the laser cameras, found the heat sources and it worked well. We had to use AFFF foam into there because of the gasoline from the cars on that.”

Cars were parked in the spaces outside the garage, which also made it tough to gain entry.

“We were fortunate to find a nearby access,” added Culbertson. “Normally, you're humping hoses down multiple levels trying to find where we're going but we were lucky it was right there. We hit it hard, and hit it fast and luckily there were no electric cars in there.”

London fire is asking for a structural engineer to determine when it will be safe for tenants to get access to their vehicles.

Meanwhile, London police has deemed the fire to be suspicious, and the investigation has been assigned to the Street Crime Unit, with assistance of London fire and the Office of the Fire Marshal.

Police said there are no reported injuries and also no damage estimate at this time.