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Monday fire was deliberately set: police

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Authorities confirmed today that the cause of a blaze that destroyed one home under construction and spread to three others was deliberately set fire.

Winnipeg police released the finding Tuesday, following the long weekend fire. "This investigation is continuing by members of the Arson Unit," Winnipeg police said.

The confirmation follows an eyewitness account in which the owner of one of four homes damaged by fire Monday morning said he saw a boy fleeing from one of the houses before it burst into flames.

The morning fire destroyed one house on Jefferson Avenue near Scotia Street and damaged three others.

Firefighters didn't know the cause of the blaze, which neighbours said was so hot they could feel it from across the street. Firefighters used foam to stop the spread of the blaze and battled the fire from the front street and alley.

The fire began at 107 Jefferson Ave., where a new split-level infill home was almost finished, but not yet occupied.

Next door, at 109 Jefferson, Bradley Larocque had just returned from a morning run and was getting ready to make breakfast for his family when he spotted a kid tumbling out of 107 Jefferson.

The kid ran across the street and through a neighbour's yard. Larocque was just about to call the police non-emergency line to report the trespasser.

"All of a sudden I heard 'whoosh,'" he said. "I looked out behind the blinds and I could see it glowing red."

Larocque roused his wife, grabbed their children and got them out of the house. He went back to look for his cats but his house was in flames. Later Monday, three of the five cats turned up.

The under-construction house was burned nearly to the ground and firefighters were beginning to demolish it Monday. Larocque's house was damaged by fire, smoke and water.

Firefighters said there was a bin fire nearby earlier Monday morning, but they are not sure the two are related.

History

Updated on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 11:45 AM CDT: Video added.

12:27 PM: Correction: Four houses were damaged by fire.

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