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Woman, 35, suspected of arson that caused $500,000 damage to Barrie home

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Homeowners in a south-end Barrie neighbourhood were drawn from their homes by the sound of an explosion followed by emergency fire sirens Thursday night.

The Deputy Chief of Communications for Barrie Fire and Emergency Service, Carrie Clark, said five units responded to the attached townhomes shortly after 11 p.m.

The garage of one of the units on Black Cherry Cres was on fire and spreading to an adjoining unit.

Emergency crews attend a fire at a townhome on Black Cherry Crescent in Barrie, Ont., on Thurs., April 20, 2023. (Courtesy: Michael Chorney/At the Scene Photography)

Clark said a large number of combustibles in the garage of the home fueled the stubborn fire.

While emergency officials fielded several 911 calls about the fire, the homeowner of the adjoining home gathered his family and evacuated from the back of their property.

Once the family was safe, he alerted other neighbours to the fire, urging them to safety. Clark says several pets were rescued as well.

A fire damaged a townhome on Black Cherry Crescent in Barrie, Ont., on Thurs., April 20, 2023. (CTV News/Rob Cooper)

The home the fire started in suffered significant damage, with the unit's interior laid bare to the elements. One adjoining unit is considered unliveable as the fire had spread to the shared wall.

The damage from the fire is being pegged at half a million dollars.

Fire crews cleared the scene around 3 a.m., and Barrie Police held the scene overnight for the Ontario Fire Marshal to arrive and begin their investigation Friday.

The fire has since been deemed arson.

Police say they identified the suspect as a 35-year-old woman of no fixed address. They are trying to locate her to "hold her accountable for her actions."

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