An Abbotsford family is recovering from a harrowing experience, when a stranger climbed onto their second-storey apartment balcony and set a fire.
It happened on Sunday morning in the 2600 block of Ware Street at the home of a couple and their two-year-old son.
The woman, Ashley (who asked that her last name not be published), wrote on Facebook that the family was woken up by a “huge smash” on their patio, and they thought someone was breaking in.
The first thing they noticed when they rushed toward their patio was that the living room window was smashed and a man was “babbling and yelling, not making sense, acting wild.”
They then noticed their new barbecue was on fire, with flames so high they touched the ceiling. The blaze caused the glass panels on their patio to explode.
They grabbed a huge jug from their water cooler and dumped it on the flames.
Meanwhile, the stranger – still screaming and babbling – had jumped onto their neighbours’ patio.
An off-duty police officer was driving by on his way to work and called the fire department.
Once the fire was out, the couple was able to survey the damage.
“Blood and glass all over my couch and my son’s elephant teddy. Our window is smashed out. The patio is a huge mess. My treasured wooden table is taken apart and smashed into pieces. There’s water and glass everywhere in our house,” Ashley wrote.
Police also arrived and had to knock down the neighbours’ door to get the man off the patio and arrest him.
Ashley said she then learned the stranger had apparently used her vintage wooden table on the patio to light the fire in their barbecue with the intent of “cooking” drugs.
She said several of her son’s toys and their Christmas lights were also tossed onto the fire.
The incident makes her “absolutely sick.”
“Apparently, we aren’t safe in our homes anymore, even on second-floor ‘secure’ buildings … I’m just thankful my son is OK and the fire didn’t spread into our house thanks to the Abby fire team,” Ashley wrote.
Michael Rodden, 32, has been charged with arson and mischief in relation to the incident, and remains in custody.
According to the provincial court database, Rodden has numerous convictions for offences such as possession of stolen property, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, uttering threats, stealing vehicles, break-and-enter, unlawful confinement, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of child pornography. The convictions date back to 2006 and almost all of them occurred in Abbotsford.