An early morning residential fire in the southern part of rural Strathcona County sent two firefighters to hospital early Wednesday morning.
The fire was reported to 911 around 2 a.m. in the area just south of Township Road 520 and Range Road 225A in Ward 7 near South Cooking Lake.
“The first arriving crews found a single-family bungalow with large volumes of smoke coming out all the openings and crews were quickly able to determine all occupants had exited the building,” explained Devin Capcara, deputy chief of operations at Strathcona County Emergency Services (SCES). “The family who lived in the home were able to get out, the pets were able to get out and everybody was fine.”
The occupants told fire crews the blaze originated in the basement. Strathcona County firefighters decided to go on an offensive attack on the blaze.
“They entered the building attempting to get downstairs to the basement and were faced with super high temperatures and zero visibility to the point where on their first try to get down they were forced back out again. They regrouped and went in for a second attempt to try to reach the seat of the fire and made it a bit farther down and were able to flow some water where they thought the seat of the fire was but it didn’t make enough of a change,” Capcara recalled. “The heat and conditions were getting untenable and we had to exit the building after the second attempt as well.”
The next crews switched to defensive operations while the first crew was treated for the heat.
“The four of them were sent to take a break and get medical monitoring because they were exposed to high temperatures and, of course, it is physically taxing to do,” Capcara said. “We ended up sending (two of) them to the hospital for further evaluations to make sure and be on the safe side. They have been released and are doing well.”
“We sent them to the hospital just to be evaluated as a precaution,” Capcara said.
The fire was declared under control just after 5:20 a.m. and SCES moved into overhaul operations after that to deal with smoldering and hot spots.
House considered a total loss, according to SCES
The rural home was badly damaged in the blaze but there was no damage estimate at this point.
“It is still under investigation. Our investigators are out there and they are determining whether they will be able to get inside the structure to collect evidence because the structure has been deemed unstable,” Capcara said. “The house is still standing but we did have to cut some holes in the home to access the basement and the fire did breach from the basement to the main floor before we got a handle on it. There is a lot of fire, smoke and water damage.”
SCES confirmed that the home and its contents are likely a total loss.
The deputy chief of operations added early morning fires are some of their most nerve-racking to tackle.
“The biggest risk with early morning fires is that everybody gets woken up and out of the house. That is the most challenging and scariest part of night-time fires because that is when people typically are sleeping and when people perish in fires, it is often because they were asleep when the fire started,” Capcara said.
The deputy chief of operations noted he is happy that the occupants and firefighters are all doing well.