Investigator say an open flame heater likely sparked a fire that completely destroyed two mobile homes Monday in Penhold.
Penhold Fire Chief Jim Pendergast says the fire started in a unit built in 1975 and spread to a neighbouring unit built in 1974.
“There was no natural gas service to the originating unit, there were several portable open flame heaters in that unit of which at least one was in operation at the time of the origin, and was most likely the cause of the fire,” he explains.
“Building and fire codes were not as stringent at the time the units were built as they are now and that and the close proximity contributed to the rapid fire spread.”
Both units had been renovated many times over the years, Pendergast notes, creating many voids and dead spaces which hampered the ability of firefighters to reach some of the deep seated hot spots.
Both units are a total loss with neither owner having insurance at the time of the fire. There were two adults and a dog living in each unit, none of whom were injured.
The occupants of the originating unit were outside at the time and noticed heavy smoke coming from the front door.
The injured firefighter is home and is expected to return to work in a full capacity next week.
Smoke filled the air over the Town of Penhold Monday night as fire that destroyed two mobile homes and injured a firefighter.
The blaze in the Penhold Estates trailer park started around 4 p.m. with firefighters from Penhold and later Innisfail both responding.
According to Penhold Fire Chief Jim Pendergast, crews found two units fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.
“We made sure all the occupants were out,” explained Pendergast. “It’s been a tough fight. It’s hard to get in to access some of the areas of the fire because of the construction and the way that the trailers have been renovated over the years. Also, all of our air packs are freezing up but I mean its winter time and so we try to plan for that but you have to deal with that right?”
Pendergast says two occupants of the mobile home where the fire started were outside cleaning their vehicle when they noticed heavy, black smoke coming out of their front door. He says there was one person in the other trailer that caught fire but they managed to evacuate safely.
“There’s been no injuries to the occupants of the trailer,” said Pendergast. “We’ve had one firefighter from Penhold transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries due to a fall.”
The firefighter was treated for a torn muscle and later released.
According to Pendergast, power had to be shut-off to nearby mobile homes but crews from Fortis Alberta were working to restore it as soon as possible.
He said it’s too early to determine a damage estimate at this time and the fire is not considered suspicious.
Penhold Mayor Mike Yargeau says the Red Cross was called in to assist the displaced residents but it’s unclear at this point how many that is.
“We had one family show up here, most went with friends or family throughout town or wherever,” said Yargeau. “They were concerned at first but it wasn’t their home that was burned, they were right next door. They were worried about how they were going to get home, how they were going to get their kids ready for school, do all that stuff.”
Yargeau added the family has since been pointed in the right direction to get the assistance they’ll need.
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