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Boy, 14, sleeping over friend’s house dies in “suspicious” house fire in Winnipeg


December 11, 2007
By The Canadian Press

Dec 4, 2007 - Winnipeg - A 14-year-old boy who was spending the night at a friend's home was killed in a fire that Winnipeg police believe may have been deliberately set.

WINNIPEG
– A 14-year-old boy who was spending the night at a friend's home was
killed in a fire that Winnipeg police believe may have been
deliberately set.

“The fire has been labelled suspicious,'' said Winnipeg police Const. Nick Paulet.

The
owner of the home, who did not want his name published, said he awoke
to find his front porch engulfed in flames, blocking the home's only
door.

He said he didn't know his 14-year-old daughter had a friend sleeping over that night.

“Lots
of kids hang around here. It's kind of like a drop-in centre for those
kids. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,'' he
said Tuesday, standing outside the gutted remains of the three-storey
house.

Police officers on patrol in the neighbourhood about 1:30 a.m. spotted the fire on the home's closed-in porch.

The man and nine other people in the house _ including a nine-month-old baby and two toddlers _ escaped through a window.

“A buddy of mine has his boots on, and kicked the window open. That's how we got out of there,'' he said.

“I ran outside in my gitch, no pants, no shoes, no nothing.''

The
homeowner said he spent most of Tuesday morning at police headquarters,
where detectives asked him repeatedly about whether he or his daughters
have any enemies.

“They have lots of boys that like them, but no enemies,'' he said.

The man added he has “no idea'' why anyone would try to harm them.

Neighbours have their own ideas.

One
neighbour, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation,
said drugs and street gangs are a huge problem in the neighbourhood,
one of Winnipeg's poorest.

“You don't even want to walk around here at night,'' the neighbour said.

“My kids have wanted to move for so long from this place.''