06/14/2015 07:47 EDT | Updated 06/14/2016 05:59 EDT

Suspicious Coquitlam fire causes millions in damage

A 90-year-old Coquitlam man is out of his home after it was badly damaged by a fire that consumed the house under construction next door.

Lyle Howarth says he went out to dinner Saturday night, and when he returned, he found his house burned and was told he couldn't go home.

"I've been living here for pushing 40 years now and it's home for me and my home has been taken away from me," he said. "I felt like someone had taken their fist and driven it into my abdomen."

​The two-alarm fire quickly spread from the house under construction to two neighbouring properties, badly damaging both, one of which was Howarth's

Howarth says he stayed with a friend Saturday night, but will probably go to a senior's residence until his home is declared safe.

Fire started with a bang

Coquitlam Fire Chief Dennis Barron says crews were called around 6:45 p.m. PT to the home under construction in the 900 block of Porter Street to find it fully engulfed in flames.

"We've talked to a number of the residents in the area, and what they said was they heard a large bang, and they came out to a ball of flames. There was no one in the building at the time, so how it happened we don't know."

Barron says damage costs could be as high as $2 million...although he says there is, as yet, no official estimate. He says the department is treating the fire as suspicious.

Amber Haines who lives nearby says the flames were bigger than anything she'd ever seen. She says it was a frightening experience because she didn't know if anyone was inside the building.

"The heat was so intense that it burned my thighs," she said. "I felt really scared. Like I was honestly scared. I was shaking. When I called 911, I was panicking." 

No one was hurt in the fire.

Its cause is still under investigation.

MAP: 900 block of Porter Street, Coquitlam