A suspicious car fire in Rutland has one woman questioning if it was a targeted attack. (Supplied)

Kelowna RCMP investigate suspicious Rutland car fire as targeted incident of arson

A family who raised their voice against the McCurdy Road house has car torched, is it connected?

A loud explosion woke up one resident in Rutland around 1 a.m., Monday morning. She saw an orange glow through her bedroom curtains and when she pulled them open in a hurry, she saw her Mini Cooper completely engulfed in flames.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she believes this could very well be a targeted attack as her husband has been vocal about putting a stop to BC Housing’s McCurdy Road supportive housing project — a 49-unit wet facility that has already broken ground.

“We don’t know for a fact if it’s someone who has to do with the wet house,” she said.

“(Kelowna-Lake Country) MLA Norm Letnick’s office was vandalized — all of the windows were broken — and another guy that was vocal against McCurdy had his gas tank punctured,” she said.

“I can’t say for sure,” she said, regarding who was behind the vandalism. “It could just be coincidental.”

A Kelowna RCMP fire investigator has deemed the incident as an act of arson, Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said.

“Our investigators have reason to believe that the event was targeted,” he said.

Police are searching for a suspect described as six-feet tall, heavier set man. He was wearing a light-coloured hoodie with the hood up and light-coloured pants and a pair of dark running shoes at the time of incident.

READ MORE: Petition started in protest of Kelowna’s McCurdy Road supportive housing

READ MORE: Rutland community rallies against McCurdy house

She said she is grateful however, that it was just her vehicle that was vandalized.

“I’ve had that car for 12 years, it’s my baby,” she said. “This is so much more heartbreaking.”

The vehicle was also her work vehicle. It was wrapped with her business’ logo, she explained.

“It will make for an interesting Canada Day weekend of weddings,” she said.

Five police cars arrived on scene to assist firefighters, all while her 18-month-old daughter was fast asleep in the home.

READ MORE: Kelowna mayor’s walking tour of Rutland cancelled

The woman said she believes an accelerant was used to start the fire and possibly some explosive-type devices as the flames were so high and the vehicle caught quickly.

“It was definitely pre-meditated because he didn’t use a lighter or something,” she said.

She said she wonders if it was a crime of opportunity as her car had been sitting on the road for a few days, but she said it could very well be a targeted attack due to the family’s involvement with the Rutland protests to the wet facility.

MLA Letnick said the windows of his office were broken, but the individual or individuals behind the act of vandalism were not able to break into the building.

“I have no idea if it is someone who is upset about the position I’ve taken in the letter to the Minister of Housing,” Letnick said. “Or, someone who is not up to speed and believes I am in a position to advocate for this.”

“My concern, of course, is the safety of my staff.”

The MLA wrote an open letter to B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson asking her to “pause” the McCurdy housing project until the issues surrounding Heath House and other facilities in the community have been corrected to “the community’s satisfaction.”

“We just don’t want a (wet) facility in with all of our schools,” the woman said. “Change it to a dry facility and everyone would be fine.”

Kelowna RCMP are investigating the fire as arson.

Anyone with additional information is to contact Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@kelownacapnews.com

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