A woman says her neighbours — a same-sex married couple — were terrified when suspected arson forced them to flee their home early Monday morning in Little Pond.
“They were super-afraid because they didn’t know if somebody was waiting for them outside the building,’’ said Maureen Campbell.
She says the two men were sleeping when the fire started. One man had to drag his partner out of the bungalow.
“It was a narrow escape and they were extremely frightened,’’ she said.
A minister is condemning the incident as a “hate crime’’.
“I was shocked and saddened to hear that the fire early on Monday morning in Little Pond was most likely deliberately set by an incendiary device tossed through a window,’’ Rev. Beth Johnston stated in an email to The Guardian.
“As the minister of the United Church community in the area I wish to go on record as deploring such hate crimes. The perpetrator or perpetrators of this crime need to be apprehended and brought to justice.’’
Police would not say if they are investigating the fire as a possible hate crime or as an attempted double murder.
RCMP Sgt. Bob Fogarty would only reiterate that the police consider the fire to be a criminal matter and that arson is suspected in the blaze that razed the couple’s home.
Members of the Souris RCMP and local fire departments responded to the bungalow fire at 4 a.m. Monday. Souris RCMP was also called to the same address after the mailbox was burned on Oct. 12.
The Guardian erroneously reported Wednesday that the property was targeted as a possible drug house. There is no evidence to support such a statement.
Campbell says both men are beyond reproach.
“My thoughts on the gentlemen, they are good neighbours, they are nice guys,’’ she said. “I’ve never known them to be disreputable.’’
Campbell says the couple certainly has not been courting trouble, but it found them just the same. She says the pair has endured unsettling harassment from an anonymous person or persons before the fire. She declined to detail the threatening actions.
“They are a very quiet couple and they are not an in-your-face gay type,’’ she said.