Victoria police are investigating an arson attack after an unidentified suspect set fire to the family home of Ukrainian Catholic priest Yuriy Vyshenvskyy while he and his family were sleeping inside.
At around 1 a.m. Vyshnevskyy awoke to his wife crying for his help as somebody poured gasoline through the mail slot of their front door before lighting the fuel ablaze.
Vyshnevskyy reportedly leapt through the flames at the front door while his wife ran upstairs to pass the children to their father through the second-storey window. All three children – aged 5, 7 and 11 – made it out of the house, with the third jumping out of the window and sustaining injuries.
Firefighters arrived at the 1112 Caledonia Ave home to find the mother clinging to a window on the second floor.
“The flames were going from the ground level all the way to the roof,” said Victoria fire battalion chief Doug Carey. “There was also a female occupant of the house clinging to the window ledge on the left side of the house here.”
“The father ran down the stairs through the flames to escape the house. The mom woke up the children, took them into the one bedroom and shut the door behind her and then passed one child through the window to dad below, then another child down. She jumped and was injured slightly on her way down.”
Vyshnevskyy’s eldest daughter was treated for cuts from the jump at the hospital, while all family members were found to have inhaled smoke. The family’s two-year-old cat Tony was also resuscitated by firefighters.
“He was totally unconscious, I thought he was deceased. Our crews used a special pet resuscitation device – it goes over the nose of the cat – they gave him oxygen and Tony’s now in stable condition at the central Victoria animal hospital,” said Carey.
Firefighters have forwarded the investigation to police, who are currently on the case. Detectives with the Victoria Police Department are investigating the fire as an arson and are asking for any witnesses to come forward, including those who have dashcam or surveillance cameras.
“There has been some questions surrounding this, given the structure’s proximity to a Ukrainian Catholic church,” said Victoria police Const. Cam MacIntyre. “Sometimes there is simply an arsonist that is in the community. Other times these incidents are targeted. It’s too early in the investigation for us to say.”
“Our goal in this is to locate a suspect, or suspects, and arrest them. We have some information but we need more.”