RCMP say 1 believed dead, police vehicles burned in incident near U.S. border in Langley, B.C.

One person is believed to be dead after a fire broke out on a property Friday near the U.S. border in Langley, B.C., during a large-scale police operation, RCMP said on Saturday.

B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIOBC), confirmed to CBC News it is now investigating the incident that left two police vehicles heavily damaged by fire. 

Officers responded to a report of a “distraught” individual on the 23000 block of 0 Avenue Friday after 10 a.m., according to an RCMP press release.

But officers heard gunshots when they arrived and called in the force’s integrated emergency response team (IERT), the release stated.

Smoke rises on a property on the 23500 block of 0 Avenue in Langley, B.C., on Saturday morning — the day after a large police operation in the area. (Shane MacKichan)

IERT “attempted in various ways to communicate with the individual who had barricaded himself inside the building,” the RCMP stated.

“At approximately 10:40 p.m., a fire erupted and eventually engulfed the building. It is believed the individual did not exit the building and is believed to have perished in the blaze.”

However, as of 5 p.m. Saturday, no body had yet been recovered from the scene, with RCMP saying search efforts will continue after firefighters are no longer “actively working at the scene” and it is safe to enter the building.

The smoking ruins of multiple vehicles were still smouldering on the property on Saturday morning, according to video from the scene — including one with what appears to be a light bar on its roof and security bars in the back passenger windows. Several unburned police vehicles were also still nearby.

The incident unfolded in an area with several farms and wineries adjacent to the U.S.-Canada border, roughly 50 kilometres southeast of Vancouver.

Police blocked off 0 Avenue between 224 and 240 streets as the incident unfolded, Langley RCMP spokesperson Corp. Craig van Herk said in an email late Friday night.

He added authorities “evacuated several of the other properties in the area … out of an abundance of caution.”

The RCMP said no one else was injured. The IIOBC, which investigates police actions in situations involving death or injury, is investigating.

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