Police have made three arrests in relation to last weekend’s house fire on Union Street in Elmira.
Emergency crews were called to the scene around 6 p.m. Sunday evening in response to the fire.
Witnesses told police they saw three males running from the area. The suspects, a 17-year-old from Waterloo and an 18-year-old and 19 year-old from Elmira, are charged with arson. The two older males were caught in a foot-chase not far from the blaze, while the 17-year-old was apprehended at a home later that evening, police say.
Authorities are withholding the names of the 18 and 19-year-olds as their names could reveal the identity of the 17-year-old, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
All three are to appear in court in November.
“The intent of the fire would be something that we would have to discuss in court rather than at this point, but the allegation is that a fire was deliberately set,” said Waterloo Regional Police spokesman Olaf Heinzel.
“The question is whether there was any intention to burn down the house or if there was another purpose of the fire. It was not the result of an accident, for example, or the result of some other explainable means.”
The investigation into the fire and the motivation of the blaze continues, and Woolwich firefighters managed to limit the majority of the damage to the roof and the second floor.
The abandoned house had been unoccupied for several years, and the property is currently the subject of an Ontario Municipal Board appeal process to decide the appropriateness of plans to rezone the site for residential use.
Hawk Ridge Homes hopes to build 44 single-family and semi-detached homes on the 5.5-acre site, a former apple orchard.