A man is presumed dead after a well-being check at a home in southern Langley, near the U.S. border, that ended in a large fire that destroyed a building and left behind numerous charred vehicles.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. – which is tasked with looking into incidents involving police in the province that result in death or serious harm to a member of the public – has been notified and is investigating.
The BC RCMP said in a statement Saturday evening that the initial call came in around 10:15 a.m. Friday.
At that time, Langley RCMP were asked “to check on the well-being of an individual who was distraught and made concerning comments,” the statement reads.
Officers eventually located the man at a residence in the 23000 block of 0 Avenue around 4 p.m., police said.
While Mounties didn’t specify the address in their statement, BC Emergency Health Services said the incident occurred at 23557 0 Ave., and the aftermath of the fire was visible at that address Saturday.
“Upon attendance, officers from the Langley RCMP reported shots being fired from inside the building,” the RCMP statement reads.
As a result, the Lower Mainland Integrated Emergency Response Team was also called in, and attempted to communicate with the man, who had barricaded himself inside, according to police.
“At approximately 10:40 p.m., a fire erupted and eventually engulfed the building,” the statement reads. “It is believed the individual did not exit the building.”
Police added they believe he perished in the blaze. No other injuries resulted from the incident.
Five BCEHS vehicles were dispatched to the address, but no one was transported from the scene, that agency said.
Smoke could still be seen rising from a series of burned-out vehicles on the property, and one of the vehicles appeared to have the remnants of police lights on its roof, suggesting it may have been an RCMP cruiser that burned.
Mounties said in their statement that “two police vehicles used for containment were heavily damaged by the fire.”
One of the burned vehicles appeared to have the remnants of police lights on its roof, suggesting it may have been an RCMP cruiser that burned. (CTV)
A relative of the owners of a neighbouring property – who declined to share her name with CTV News – said several properties in the area were evacuated Friday night as Mounties dealt with the incident.
Mounties said firefighters were still “actively working at the scene” as of Saturday evening, adding that efforts to find the deceased man would continue once the scene was safe.
The IIO is now investigating to determine whether police action or inaction contributed to the man’s presumed death. The office investigates incidents resulting in death or serious harm regardless of whether there is an allegation of wrongdoing on the part of police.
The IIO is asking anyone with relevant information or video to contact its witness line at 855-446-8477 or to use the contact form on its website.
The Langley RCMP investigation is ongoing.