06/25/2015 10:14 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT

Port Coquitlam boat fire investigated as suspicious

Officials are calling an early morning Port Coquitlam, B.C., boat fire suspicious. The yacht was parked in a driveway in the 900-block of Raymond Avenue, when it caught fire on Thursday, around 3 a.m. PT.

Next door neighbour Antonio Nicoletti was awoken by yelling and screaming and rushed outside.

"You could see the flames just passing the rooftop and just the boat was engulfed in flames," said Nicoletti. "Everyone's panicking, and of course the house is catching, so everyone's starting to move vehicles."

"I even tried to get the hose out, and tried to spray, but I was just too far. I didn't want to get too close in case there was an explosion," added Nicoletti.

Port Coquitlam deputy fire chief Terry Hochstetter said the main concern was the fire's spread to the house.

"At this time it appears there's minor damage to the roof line of the home," said Hochstetter, "damage to the gutters and the soffit area, there's minor smoke in the home."

Fire investigated as suspicious

"We'll treat it as suspicious at this point. We don't have a lot to go on. We have an abandoned boat at 3 o'clock in the morning," said Hochstetter. "Something like this is unusual, especially at the time. We do have some things that we're looking into at that we found around the rear of the boat."

Hochstetter said there was nobody home at the time, and RCMP was trying to locate the boat owner.

Nasty smoke

The putrid stench from the fire could be smelled from several blocks away. ​

"Obviously we've got a lot of plastics, foam, and petroleum fuel, oils and everything that's involved in this. Our crews, obviously, were wearing their full protection and breathing apparatus," said Hochstetter. "We moved the neighbours away, and tried to warn them to stay away until we got this under control."

"It was pretty stinky, of course I went right away and closed some of the windows. I didn't want any stinking going on in the house," said Nicoletti.

"It's not something, obviously, that's good to your health to be taking in this kind of smoke," said Hochstetter.