CHARLOTTETOWN – A fire that broke out in a vacant building where three people were found dead early Saturday engulfed the structure within minutes, according to a man who says he lives next door.
Reggie Jameson, who lives across from the building on a former driving range in the Prince Edward Island capital, said he woke up at about 5:30 a.m. after hearing sirens and looked out his window to find the vacant building was on fire.
“Just one corner of the building, you could see a little bit of flames,” said Jameson in a phone interview from his home on Saturday. “Within two to five minutes the whole building was engulfed.
“It just kept getting worse and worse as more fire engines showed up.”
The Charlottetown Police Service said an officer on patrol in the area had come across the fire and an injured male.
Deputy Chief Gary McGuigan said the man told the officer that there could be more people inside the building.
“The officer went to the building and attempted to enter but was pushed back by the intense heat and smoke,” said McGuigan.
The injured male was airlifted to a hospital in Halifax.
McGuigan said after the fire was extinguished roughly two hours later, three bodies were found inside.
Jameson, 24, said he could see flames shooting out of the building from every direction.
He said when he learned that three people died in the fire, it came as a shock because the building is abandoned and boarded up.
“There’s no power hook ups to it, there’s nothing. There’s three feet of snow in front of it,” said Jameson, who has lived near the building for about two years. “It never occurred to me that anyone was inside.”
But Jameson said he has occasionally seen flashlights and heard people talking inside the building late at night, but usually only during the summer.
Police said investigators were working to determine the identity of the victims and the cause of the fire.
McGuigan said the area was blocked off on Saturday and fire investigators would remain on scene into Sunday.