A granddaughter of the woman who died in a mobile home fire in Williams Lake last Thursday is urging anyone with information to go to the police.
After spending most of the daylight hours Monday picking through the wreckage of her grandmother’s trailer at Lakeside Mobile Home Park to see if she could salvage any mementos, Clea Wiebe told the Tribune she believes the fire was arson.
“When you intentionally light someone’s front porch on fire you are intending to murder someone, regardless,” she said, as she fought back her tears. “It’s not like lighting the garbage can on fire.”
Wiebe and her husband live in the Fraser Valley and arrived in Williams Lake two days after the fire, anxious to find out as much as they could about what happened.
On Thursday morning at around 3:30 a.m. the RCMP, Williams Lake Fire Department and BC Ambulance responded to the Lakeside Mobile Home Park where a trailer at Unit 12 was on fire.
About 30 minutes later, emergency services were alerted that a second trailer, located several units away was also on fire.
It was the second fire that claimed the lives of Wiebe’s grandmother and an elderly man she was caring for. By the afternoon, the Williams Lake RCMP said both trailer fires were suspicious and the fire investigators, North District Major Crime, North District General Investigators and Forensic Identification Services were assisting with the investigation.
As of Tuesday, the RCMP had not released any further details on the investigation.
Neighbour James Davis said Wiebe’s grandmother was like a mother to him and that he had recently moved to Williams Lake from the Lower Mainland to help her out. He is devastated by the loss.
Davis lives two trailers down in the park and said he woke up early Thursday to discover her trailer was on fire. At that point he did not know the other trailer was burning.
He said he wanted to get into the trailer to help her, but police held him back because it wasn’t safe.
“It was something no one should have to go through,” Davis said. “All we could do was stand there and watch it burn.”
Davis said he wonders if the fires were gang-related because there were four fires in the mobile home park that same night.
Aside from the two trailer fires, a truck was burned out and someone tried to burn a motorcycle that was under a blue tarp, he said.
The RCMP were at the mobile home park almost every night before the fires, Davis said, noting about a month ago there were two stabbings there and some tires were slashed.
Wiebe said her grandmother told her on the telephone about three weeks ago that she was scared living in the trailer park.
“I told her to wait until spring and then she could just get out of there,” Wiebe said.
When contacted b the Tribune, the park manager declined comment, noting the matter was under investigation.
Wiebe’s husband described her grandmother as a kind and generous woman who, if you were hungry, she would feed you.
While sorting through the rubble, Wiebe found a box of dominoes she used to play with as a child.
“When I opened it I started bawling,” she said of the dominoes. “It had no value, but it was so sentimental to me.”
Wiebe said the loss is especially difficult because her mother (her grandmother’s daughter) was raped and murdered in Kamloops at the age of 21.
Wiebe said her grandmother was in her 70s when she died and had a beautiful soft heart.
“She loved flowers and her garden. She loved me more than words can express.”
The man her grandmother was caring for who also died in the fire was elderly and used a walker, Wiebe said, noting he was also a lovely sweet person.
“Why would someone want to kill somebody and take an innocent life?” Wiebe asked.
“I don’t understand that. How do you be so cold and have such a cold heart?”
Wiebe and Davis said they hoped by talking to the Williams Lake Tribune it will wake people up to the reality of what happened.
“We just want anyone with information to come forward and give police anything they know,” Wiebe said.