Suspicious fire at London home recently raided by police
LONDON, ONT. -- It took 27 firefighters approximately 30 minutes to extinguish a blaze Thursday night, but the house was still destroyed.
Just before 11 p.m., fire crews were called to a house at 203 Commissioners Road East, between Wortley Road and Carnegie Line.
London Fire Department Platoon Chief Colin Shewell tells CTV News, "We received an initial 911 call followed by multiple 911 calls of a structure fire...that was fully involved upon our crews' arrival. Our crews encountered heavy fire to the roof section in the rear and were able to really do a defensive attack and knock the fire down fairly quickly."
Once at the stage where they were putting out hot spots, Shewell says they were able to enter the structure to check if there was anyone inside.
London police say no one was home when the fire broke out and there were no injuries as a result of the fire.
The home had been raided by provincial police just last week in connection with an illegal gambling investigation that is alleged to have ties to the Hell's Angels.
OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says, "We were there executing search warrants in relation to our investigation," about a week ago.
One of the people arrested in the Project Hobart investigation was Robert Barletta, 49, a known Hell's Angels member with ties to London, Ont.
Three others were arrested in the Forest City in that investigation, 62-year-old Gordon Baird, 43-year-old Habiba Kajan and 38-year-old Dejan Markovic.
All four face book-making counts and are accused of being part of a criminal organization. All but Baird are also facing firearms charges.
It remains unclear how this home is connected to that investigation.
Shewell says, "At this point the fire is considered suspicious and we're going to be working with our partners and [London police] and along with our fire prevention division to determine a cause and origin of the fire."
Police say the investigation, which includes the Office of the Fire Marshal, is in its early stages.
Damage is estimated at about $1 million.
Neighbours tell CTV News they often saw a woman gardening around the house who "seemed really nice...low-key," but wouldn't comment further.
- With files from CTV London's Sean Irvine