Fire leaves Linaria family homeless
No one injured in Feb. 13 blaze
Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013 10:00 am
A suspected chimney fire tore through a Linaria-area home last Wednesday night, destroying the building and leaving a family of seven homeless.
Westlock Rural firefighters received a call at around 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 of a structure fire in the northwest part of the county near the border with Barrhead County, said county fire chief John Biro.
The house was occupied when the fire started, but a witness said the family had left the scene by the time firefighters had arrived, Biro said.
“They did their part taking the kids away to a safe location, just so the kids don’t have to see what actually happened,” he said, adding no one sustained any injuries in escaping the house.
The Westlock Rural department was the first to respond, but shortly after the initial call went out, Biro said the Jarvie, Pickardville, Fawcett and Clyde fire departments were called in for backup.
The fire was about 32 kilometres from the nearest emergency services station, which meant by the time firefighters arrived, the building was completely engulfed in flames and its roof and three walls had already collapsed.
In fact, Biro said the fire was so intense, its effects could be seen from a great distance.
“Ten miles away, you could physically see the glow on the horizon, so I knew the outcome wasn’t going to be the greatest,” he said.
The flames spread quickly throughout the building, likely because its contents provided fuel for the fire, he said.
In all, Biro said firefighters were able to get the fire under control within about an hour, and were on scene for about five hours dousing the flames. They returned the next day to put out any hotspots that were still smouldering.
However, putting out the fire had a rocky start, as the power lines were still active and there were propane tanks near the house, so firefighters needed to attack the fire defensively until the power was turned off.
Upon investigation, Biro said the fire started in the home’s chimney, confirming what a witness had said.
“According to witnesses, it started around the chimney,” he said. “Flames were visible at the time and they basically evacuated the house.”
This fire was the second chimney fire Biro has responded to this year, and he said his message about proper chimney maintenance remains constant. “I don’t know how many more times I can say it — clean your chimneys. Do the maintenance. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
He also said it’s crucial that houses and other buildings have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
“It’s very important to make sure those things work,” he said. “That’s what’s going to get you out of your home if you’re sleeping at night.”
Other key things families should do to remain safe in a fire is have come up with an escape plan ahead of time, so everyone knows where the exits are and where to meet once outside.