Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fire strikes home twice in one week

Owner suspects arson in both instances

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A West End home caught fire Friday for the second time in less than a week, its owner said.

Gilbert Pronteau, who owns the house in the 800 block of Home Street, said someone has been setting fire to the two-storey he lives in with his girlfriend, Anita Duck.

"We don't know who's been doing it. Twice in a week is not accident," Pronteau said, while a half-dozen fire trucks lined his street Friday afternoon, spraying down the last remaining embers from the latest blaze.

Pronteau said his garage and home caught fire just last week and he has no idea how the flames broke out in either incident.

Capt. Ken Holliday with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedics Service said crews were dispatched Friday to the West End house at 3:48 p.m. to put out the fire.

Holliday said three separate locations in the home were on fire and the blaze is considered suspicious in nature.

Pronteau said he and Duck were taking a nap in the home's living room when he awoke to his neighbour, Maria Machab, tapping on their window.

"I saw lots of smoke coming out of the back room so I ran to tell them that their house was burning," said Machab, who lives next door to Pronteau's home.

"It was all smoky, so I grabbed (Anita) and took her outside," Pronteau said, his hands still black with ash.

"Then I remembered my friends were over, and I ran back in. It was all red, fire everywhere. I couldn't see very well, but I found my way anyway 'cause I know my house. I dragged them outside one by one."

Although there were no injuries to the four people inside, Duck said she has not heard what happened to her three cats that were left behind in the basement.

"I'm trying not to think the worst, but I just can't help it," Duck said, tears streaming down her face. "Everything I own was in there, my ID, everything. I don't know what we're going to do."

The fire caused about $70,000 in damage. The incident is under investigation.

Meanwhile, one man was taken to hospital after a fire destroyed a house on 41 Sadler Ave. early Friday morning. The man had minor burns to his hands and suffered smoke inhalation from the blaze, a Winnipeg fire department spokesman said.

The fire started in the rear of the single-storey St. Vital home and spread to the front, the spokesman said. By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, at about 2:30 a.m., the house was in flames.

It caused $200,000 in damage. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

katherine.dow@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 1, 2012 A7

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