News

Fighting a fire bug

It was 5 a.m. Sunday when Langley resident Dawn Ritchot heard a loud banging on her front door.

It sounded like someone was trying to force their way inside.

Then it stopped.

She and her significant other, Ron Dreser, looked through their windows to see a man running away.

He was frantically banging on the doors of the houses near the intersection of 46 Avenue and 207A Street.

It wasn’t until they went outside that they realized the man was their neighbour, Eddie Dagg, and he was banging on their door because someone had set fire to their camping trailer and the trailer of a neighbour.

“All I could hear was screaming,” Ritchot said.

A voice was yelling “the trailers are on fire.”

Ritchot dialed 911 and loaded her eight-year-old son Brayden into her truck and backed away from the house, worried the trailer fire could spread to the house.

She also phoned her oldest son Curtis Ritchot, who made a beeline for his mother’s house and arrived in time to witness an “insane” scene of police and firefighters and yellow tape cordoning off the fire scenes.

He counted at least three police cars and four fire trucks.

Curtis Ritchot is grateful for the man who alerted his neighbourhood.

“I was that close to burying my parents and because of Eddy I don’t have to,” he said.

His mother said Dagg and her other neighbours tried to fight the fires but the burning propane tanks made it impossible.

“The whole sky lit up,” she said.

“The flames were huge.”

The blaze, fueled by the trailer propane tanks, brought local power lines down and they fell with loud popping and crashing sounds.

“All we could do is stand back and watch,” she said.

Because her trailer’s propane tanks were almost empty, the damage was relatively limited, but the tanks on the neighbour’s trailer were full.

There, the blaze gutted the trailer and fried a pickup truck next to it.

Heat from the burning trailer also melted the vinyl siding off the upper floor of the house.

The neighbours later learned that another trailer at another location not far away had also been damaged by a suspicious fire.

No one was injured, something Ritchot says is entirely because of Eddie Dagg, who she calls a “hero among us” for running past burning and potentially explosive propane tanks to warn his neighbours.

Dagg could not be reached for comment before The Times press deadline.

Police are asking anyone with information that might assist in identifying the suspect or suspects involved to call the Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200.

If you need to remain anonymous call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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