After a massive fire last year, which caused the death of a 40-year-old man, the charred remains of 1103 Chilako Ave. have been left unaddressed by the property owners.
Prince George city council is now taking remedial action and has declared the site an unsafe and nuisance property.
On Oct. 12, 2019, the house, which is near 15 Avenue and Abhau Street, became fully engulfed in flames and suffered several large explosions.
Prince George RCMP later confirmed the residents of the home, who were well-known to police, were handling large amounts of gasoline.
A dog died in the blaze, and three other men were injured.
Four months later, property owners Harjinder John Singh Berar and Spuran Kaur Sidhu have left the burned structure practically untouched.
Fred Crittenden, Manager of Bylaw Services, prepared a report during last night’s city council meeting (Jan. 20) recommending there should be remedial action against the property.
He requested city council to declare 1103 Chilako Ave. an unsafe and nuisance property, impose remedial action, set Feb. 28, 2020 as the compliance date and Feb. 5, 2020, as the final date to request a reconsideration.
The final recommendation is for council to authorize administration and take appropriate action to ensure the property is brought into compliance.
In his report, Crittenden stated that Berar informed the city he did not have proper fire insurance for the property and could not afford to secure the property.
“It’s obvious from the conversations the owners had with fire services that they were not prepared financially or want to jump on it quickly, so we feel it’s in the community’s best interest to deal with this property sooner than later,” said Crittenden.
“As we move into the Spring, it’s going to become more of an attractant to people in the neighbourhood and more of a distraction from their property values and that is the reason we wanted to bring this forward as soon as possible.”
Coun. Susan Scott asked what are the consequences if the steps in the remedial action are not followed by the property owners, and Crittenden answered that a lien would be placed on the property.
“The city would have a contractor demolish what’s left of the property and level the property. The cost of that would be put to the property owner and, if not paid, it would go onto the tax bill and eventually the city would recover the cost of that through tax recovery sale of the property.”
Bylaw services has been receiving complaints about the property since November, with residents noting that debris was being washed into the street when it rained.
“If you’re going to be a property owner you need to step up,” said Coun. Kyle Sampson.
“I’d like to send a clear message; I think this kind of thing is absolutely unacceptable in our city and it sounds like our council is prepared to take action.”
All recommendations associated with the remedial action were approved unanimously by council.
Here is a timeline of events, provided in Crittenden’s report:
- Oct. 12, 2019: Prince George Fire Rescue attended to a structure fire at 1103 Chilako Ave. They found the building heavily involved in fire from all sides and the roof. Several large explosions occurred in the first five minutes of Fire Rescue arriving at the scene. A stream of burning liquid was running down the driveway. The structure sustained approximately $400,000 in damages and is not currently habitable.
- Oct. 16, 2019: Chief Fire Prevention Officer, Marcel Profeit, issued an Order to Secure the fire-damaged building. The order gave the property owners 24 hours to secure the building but the property owners failed to do it so Prince George Fire Rescue made arrangements to have the property secured. The property owners also advised Prince George Fire Rescue that they had no insurance and could not afford to secure the property.
- Nov. 18, 2019: A complaint was received bylaw services that the structure fire at had not yet been cleaned up and, when it rained, debris was being washed into the street. The assigned investigator spoke with property owner Harjinder John Berar, who said that he was working on getting insurance but was, as yet, unsure about it. Berar was told that bylaw services would be initiating the unsightly property process to ensure the property was cleaned up as soon as possible.
- Nov. 19, 2019: Bylaw Services issued an order to have the property cleaned up by Dec. 11, 2019. The order was posted on the security fence at the property and a copy mailed to Berar at an address he requested.
- Nov 27, 2019: A second complaint was received by Bylaw Services regarding the unsightly and unsafe condition of the property at 1103 Chilako Ave.
- Dec. 11, 2019: Bylaw Services attended to the location and noted that there had been no progress made to have the property cleaned up. The building had not been demolished and no debris had been removed.
- Since the fire damage to the property occurred, the RCMP has attended at least two times to deal with suspicious persons on the property.