Arson suspected in Orleans blaze

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2011/02/06/17173206.html

Caring neighbours rushed to comfort a 76-year-old Orleans woman whose house may have been set ablaze by an arsonist early Sunday morning.

The Ottawa police arson unit is now investigating the fire.

“We got out there and met her crying,” said a neighbour, who didn’t want his name published. “Other neighbours were there but when she saw us, she saw a familiar face.”

The man’s wife said they were notified by the alarm company .

Three people escaped from the burning home at 1843 Simard Dr. around 3 a.m. Sunday.

The homeowner’s 26-year-old grandson and his girlfriend were watching TV when they heard crashing sounds from the front window of the house.

The window had shattered because of a fire that had started on the veranda, spreading to the outside of the house.

The couple woke the man’s grandmother and all three escaped through the back door.

When firefighters arrived they found the front entrance ablaze and flames were spreading to the second floor exterior walls.

The arson unit is investigating after witnesses reported an accelerant may have been used to start the blaze.

Ottawa fire services spokesperson Marc Messier said accelerant is a flammable fluid that speeds up the fire process.

“We ruled out all the other possibilities. It’s now a police matter,” said Messier.

The victim’s neighbours expressed concerns about people hanging out at all hours at Saint Francois Park, right next to the house.

“It’s a dark park,” the female neighbour said. “At night, people do as they like.”

She said police don’t regularly patrol the park.

“That park is a bad park, especially during the summer months. Winter, you think it would be OK.”

Ottawa police staff sgt. Denis Charbonneau said the park is monitored less frequently in the winter because cops can’t drive inside.

“Mostly in the summer with kids drinking in the parks, we pay more attention to it,” Charbonneau said.

Little damage was done to the interior of the house but there’s smoke damage throughout the home. Total damage is estimated at $70,000.

No injuries were reported.

Neighbours said the homeowner has insurance but don’t know how much will be covered.

The homeowner, a Jamaican immigrant who has lived there since 1983, is staying with her daughter.

The couple said they don’t know why their friend or her grandson would be targeted.

“There was no reason for them to do that to that woman,” said the neighbours.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

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