A firebombed damaged home in Halifax's west end is shown on Tuesday Jan. 3, 2017. Police say a family of four -- a couple and their two children -- were forced to flee after someone in a white vehicle tossed an incendiary device at the two-storey home just before midnight. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael MacDonald
HALIFAX — A couple and their two children were forced to flee their Halifax home after it was firebombed, bewildering neighbours who insisted their well-manicured corner of the city's west end is typically a quiet, safe place.
No one was injured in the spectacular fire, which saw flames roaring out the front windows.
However, the building is badly damaged. Beyond the charred and melted vinyl siding on the front of the house, the main floor is a blackened mess, as is much of the second floor.
The family, which includes a 12-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy, escaped into the cold with only the clothing they were wearing, and some didn't have boots or shoes on, said Red Cross spokesman Dan Bedell. A tenant living in an upstairs apartment was not home at the time, he said.
Const. Dianne Penfound said police believe the building, at the corner of Chebucto Road and Quinn Street, was deliberately set on fire around 11:30 p.m. Monday.
"A witness in the area saw an unknown man in a white vehicle pull up and throw an incendiary device, which ignited the building," she said in an interview Tuesday, adding that the witness told police the suspect was white.
Heidi Cleary, who lives next door, said she was startled awake by her neighbour's barking dog, and the sudden arrival of a fleet of police cars and fire trucks.
"It's awful to know that happened right here in the neighbourhood," she said, while sweeping up the mess left behind by a Christmas tree she had just hauled to the curb.
Cleary, who has lived in the neighbourhood for just under a year, said she didn't know the family or the other tenant, but she said they never attracted attention.
"I certainly didn't hear any loud parties or craziness happening over there — Not a peep," she said. "Still, it's a little nerve-racking. I have two little kids that live here with me."
A few doors down on Quinn Street, resident Cathleen MacDonald said she and her children were stunned to see "flames gushing out of the house," and she, too, confirmed the neighbourhood is typically a quiet one.
"There's a lot of families and older couples here," she said. "There's really no trouble."
However, MacDonald said she had spotted police cars near the two-storey residence "from time to time" over the past six months.
"I wondered if there was some kind of ongoing issue," she said.
Neighbour Salna Hanna said she slept through the commotion down the street. A resident of Quinn Street for 44 years, Hanna said her neighbourhood has long been considered a "a very prime area," perfect for raising children.
"We didn't have any problems," she said, noting that her children have all married and moved away.
"We thought we were in a very good area, but this could happen anywhere," she said, adding that the burned-out house was a rental property. "So, you don't know the people who go in and out ... It would give us peace of mind if we where told what happened."
The fire marshal's office has been called in, and arson investigators dispatched to the scene.
Penfound said she could not provide details about the nature of the incendiary device, given that such information would be considered key evidence.
Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press