An Abbotsford family had a harrowing experience on Sunday morning, when a stranger climbed onto their second-storey apartment balcony and set a fire.
The incident took place in the 2600 block of Ware Street at the residence 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The woman, Ashley (who asked that her last name not be published), wrote on Facebook that the family were awakened by a “huge smash” on their patio, and they thought someone was breaking into their home.
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 that their barbecue was on fire, with flames so high they were touching 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 in the fire, resulting in Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service quickly arriving on scene and extinguishing the blaze.
Then, 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.
She said police also arrived at scene and had to knock down their neighbours’ door to get the man off the patio before arresting him.
Ashley said she then learned that the stranger had apparently used her vintage wooden table on the patio to light the fire in their brand-new 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.
She said 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 now been charged with arson and mischief in relation to the incident, and currently remains in custody.
According to the provincial court database, Rodden has numerous past convictions for offences such as possession of stolen property, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, uttering threats, stealing vehicles, break-and-enter, robbery, unlawful confinement, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, possession of child pornography, mischief, and breaching his bail and probation conditions.
The convictions date back to 2006 and most of them occurred in Abbotsford.
Rodden was the subject of a police notice in July 2017, when he was wanted by the Mission RCMP on three warrants. He was arrested the following month.
A GoFundMe page has been started for Ashley and her family to help them cover the expense of replacing their damaged barbecue, patio furniture and son’s toys, as they did not have condo insurance. (Their strata is covering the damage done to the windows and deck.)
The page can be found here.