By Cam Fortems
Daily News Staff Reporter
A Dufferin home where a woman was held hostage Thursday evening is completely burned after fire crews were kept hundreds of metres away, fearing explosives that RCMP confirmed were planted inside as well as in a van parked on the street.
About midnight RCMP confirmed the woman being held in a house at 1486 Cannel Dr. was freed by her captor, described earlier as an "estranged male friend."
Ten minutes later two explosions could be heard inside the home.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said the explosions were not set by a police emergency response team
A small fire could be seen steadily growing inside the front door. Twenty minutes later the roof on the house was glowing and flames poured out of every opening. RCMP who cordoned off the house hours earlier confirmed the man did not escape. His body is presumed to have burned.
Kamloops Fire and Rescue crews waited at Aberdeen Mall several blocks away as the fire smoldered, licked and finally burst forth, lighting up the quiet neighbourhood.
"You're sitting there watching this nice house burn," Learned said.
But police had solid information they believed the man's threat's of explosives was real. A police explosive demolition unit checked the van while the fire raged metres behind them.
"There was an explosive device in the vehicle," Learned said. "They (explosive demolition unit) couldn't easily remove it at the time."
RCMP did not provide details on the explosives used.
"It's terrlbly sad," said neigbour Fred Bartlett, among those who watched the hours-long drama.
The events started seven hours earlier, about 5:30 p.m., when police were called to a report of a man entering a home, armed with a long gun.
RCMP wielding pistols and rifles soon surrounded the house, just off Hillside Drive, and nine police cruisers crowded into a cul-de-sac.
More than a dozen homes were evacuated and the Kelowna-based emergency response team was called. Members arrived shortly before 8:30.
Vern Reynolds, who lives across the street from the home, said he watched in late afternoon as a white van did a u-turn on Cannel Drive, then pulled up in front of the house.
The 25-year resident said it didn't strike him as unusual and he went back to preparing his dinner.
Then he heard a bang.
"It sounded like a car bumping into something."
Reynolds said he heard a siren a few minutes later.
"We looked out and all hell broke loose."
Outside were nine police cruisers and police carrying guns.
But the real drama occurred just after midnight as neigbours watched the massive blaze, fearing their own homes would go up with it.
Eentually fire crews sprayed neighbouring homes from 100 metres -- the distance ordered by the police explosives team.
"Siding damage is easy to fix," said a next-door neighbour who declined to give her name. "I just don't want it on fire."
Crews appeared to have contained the main fire to the home, saving neigbouring houses.
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