The Lacombe Fire Department (LFD) responded to a call just before midnight on May 7th which led them to 101 Mackenzie Crescent where they found a residential building in flames. The home had been vacant for some time, so the department was able to get the fire under control very quickly, explained Lacombe Fire Chief Ed van Delden.
“We had flames showing out of the east side of the building, they declared it under control in about 30 minutes. They had control of it very quickly. This home did not have a lot of furnishings inside, the home had been vacant for a couple of months and that is significant in terms of how much fuel there is for the fire to consume and to grow. So that’s a factor in us being able to rapidly cool it,” he said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and although the department has a, “Good idea of what started it,” they are not disclosing information right now, said van Delden.
LFD took about 30 minutes to handle the flames, which van Delden explained is a usual response time for the department, but again, many factors go into fighting a fire that determines the response time.
“There’s really not much we can do in regards to response time to a scene, that’s just a function of dispatch having time to give us an early alert, so they’ll often do that if they know where the fire is. In terms of our response time once we get the engine there, then it’s a function of how many people do we have close to the fire hall at the time, how quickly are they able to get away – things like that.
“I like to think it’s more important what we do once we’re on the scene, and that is training, that’s a combination of getting what I call ‘habit strength skills’ so you don’t have to think about it so much,” he said. “They’re so strong with their habit, so that piece is important and also just being able to read the fire quickly and coming up with a strategic plan quickly.”
According to a LFD press release, the damages to the home are estimated to be around $200,000 and about $15,000 to the home east of the residence.
With the area getting a little bit of moisture, the City of Lacombe has not yet included itself in the provincial wide fire ban, so fires are still allowed within City limits. van Delden explained that even though the fire ban is not requiring people in Lacombe to restrain from having fires, they should be wary of other materials.
“There is no fire ban within the City of Lacombe and so fires that are small and contained within the legal fire pit are actually quite safe. They are probably not any less safe than a BBQ or a fuel propane fire; that sort of device. What we’re really worried about are those activities that wouldn’t be around the fire pit in the backyard,” he added. “For example, smoking materials – even on Saturday I was coming home from the City and I saw a window go down and someone threw a cigarette butt out and I thought, ‘oh my God.’ That’s a message that needs to get out there, we need to be very disciplined when it comes to smoking materials.”
van Delden also added that backyard apparatuses like tiki torches or portable candles are what the fire department is worried about, and people should be very wary of what they use for achieving a certain atmosphere in their backyards. He said this is not the time to be setting off fireworks of any kind either.