Family recovers after vandals destroy home

‘It really pulls the rug out from under you — you don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Michael Purves on Friday.

‘It really pulls the rug out from under you — you don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Michael Purves on Friday.

Two weeks ago, thieves broke into his Alexander Street home.

They stole a laptop, camera, a jar of change and a number of other things. Then they set the house on fire.

“It’s senseless — I don’t condone stealing, but I can understand it through an economic rationale,” said Purves.

“I just don’t understand setting someone’s house on fire.”

Experts suspect the thieves may be inexperienced criminals, said Purves.

“The investigator from Vancouver said that it looked like they didn’t know what they were doing — they were ransacking things and dumping out drawers.”

The back door of the house was unlocked and there were two broken panes of glass near the door handle.

Although the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, it began in an unused bedroom downstairs, said Purves.

City firefighters arrived on the scene just before 2 a.m. on August 31, and 17 people battled the blaze until nearly 8 a.m.

The Whitehorse fire department deemed it “suspicious” and handed the investigation over to the RCMP.

Most of the items in the house were damaged beyond repair and are not worth trying to save, but Purves pulled a few items of personal value from the house.

“I’ve pulled out some pictures and some CDs — different stuff like that.

“It’s just really hard to do and every time you go into the house you come out smelling like a woodstove.

“It’s just a struggle to get your head back on straight.”

Despite the violation, Purves plans to stay downtown.

“I think this can happen anywhere, I don’t think it’s a function of the location,” he said.

This was the first break in Purves has experienced in a decade of living downtown, but when he lived in Riverdale his house was broken into three times.

“It’s really sad that these things happen, I really like living downtown and I’ve always felt that downtown gets a bad rap — I always found it quiet and I had really nice neighbours,” he said.

He had a very different impression what of downtown living would be before he moved there.

“I thought it would be noisy, but I found it was quiet and very pleasant,” he said

He doesn’t know why his house was targeted.

“They wanted to break into a house and they broke into a house,” said Purves, who has been living downtown for a decade.

Following the fire last week, Whitehorse fire chief Clive Sparks estimated the house sustained between $150,000 and $175,000 in damages.

“It might be cheaper to tear it down and build a new house than fix it — there’s a lot of damage inside,” said Purves.

“I really don’t know — we’re still really wandering around in a daze,” he added.