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Fire tears through Surrey four-plex, leaving nine homeless

Denise Ryan

Esther Walls stands in front of her fire damaged home on 128 Ave near 103 St. in Surrey, BC., August 7, 2017. Nine people were forced out of their home and one person was taken to hospital following the blaze. (NICK PROCAYLO/PostMedia)

Esther Walls stands in front of her fire damaged home on 128 Ave near 103 St. in Surrey, BC., August 7, 2017. Nine people were forced out of their home and one person was taken to hospital following the blaze. (NICK PROCAYLO/PostMedia)

One person was transported to hospital and at least eight residents were left homeless after a fire tore through a four-plex in Surrey early Sunday, officials say.

The fire at 10282 and 10284 128th Street also claimed the lives of three dogs, according to survivor Esther Walls. Walls's black Siamese cat Ling Ling survived the blaze, but bolted.

The fire appeared to have started at the rear of the building, and completely demolished the back porch and stairs, leaving the structure uninhabitable.

Walls was distraught Sunday as she surveyed the wreckage and searched for her cat on Sunday morning.

"I got my cat out, but it got scared and it ran away," she said.

Walls, who lived in the rear, ground-floor unit, said she was awoken around 4:3o a.m. by people yelling that her house was on fire: "I phoned 911, put on my housecoat and my shoes, and grabbed my purse and my cat."

Flames blocked the only exit door to Walls's unit. Walls said she got out through the broken rear window.

Acting assistant Surrey fire chief Rob Aldcorn said firefighters had to rescue at least one resident: "One occupant was successfully rescued from the building and transported to the hospital from B.C. Ambulance and will be released later today."

Aldcorn said the first call came in at 4:45 a.m., and it took nine units with 23 firefighters to get the blaze under control. He said some residents reported that they didn't hear smoke alarms going off, and that the investigation is ongoing.

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Tyler Martin was on-site Sunday and said the fire was being treated as "suspicious."

"It's a little too early in the investigation to say what caused it, but as you can see from the damage, it started underneath the back porch," he said.

Martin confirmed that, along with Ling Ling, some pets did survive the fire and made it out. Walls said she lost everything in the fire, but it's the cat, Ling Ling, she is most worried about. "Stuff don't matter," she said.

Kuljit Toor, owner of a nearby house, said his tenants had issues with some residents in the burnt-out four-plex and that some tenants in the house were "very nice," but others treated it as a party house. "They say something is always going on there," said Toor.

dryan@postmedia.com