By Lisa Joy
A fire that broke out about 10 p.m. Thursday night destroyed two homes in Blackfalds Estates on the east side of town along Hwy 2A. Residents in the row were evacuated.
“There’s two trailers completely lost in the Blackfalds mobile home park,” said Town of Blackfalds Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Myron Thompson Friday morning in a phone interview. “There were some adjacent units that were damaged from smoke and activity but no damage to any adjacent trailers so that’s good.”
There were no injuries,” said CAO Thompson. “There were a number of pets taken by our contracted animal services. Our staff and various departments pitched in to help those impacted and the Red Cross stepped up as well.”
Blackfalds Estates resident April Murray, who lives in the adjacent row of trailers, Thursday night at the scene said they first heard a loud noise.
“It was just like a big rush, like water rushing almost. It was very loud. It was like ‘whoosh’ almost like a chimney fire. If you’ve ever heard a chimney fire that’s what it sounded like but 10 times louder. We didn’t know what was going on,” she added. “Then we heard sirens so my hubby looked out the window.”
Once they realized a fire had engulfed two nearby homes they fled their home.
“ I thought ‘I gotta put some clothes on.’ We were all in our pj’s getting ready for bed. We were like ‘grab the dogs let’s go.’ We got the dogs and we just backed up (our vehicle) and went over here (end of estates area).
“I grabbed my purse, grabbed my cell phone and grabbed the dogs and we went out the door.”
Atco had a strong presence at the scene and brought in a back hoe around midnight.
“The gas meter was totally melted off so they had to excavate in the alley to locate the line and shut down the gas line,” said CAO Thompson.
The town’s emergency response system kicked in immediately.
“We opened up a reception centre to take those in that were impacted,” said CAO Thompson. “That worked well. We provided food and shelter until the Red Cross were able to organize accommodations that were required for lodging at the local hotel, Microtel.”
Town of Blackfalds Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) Manager Sue Bornn, said they are working on determining how many people were affected.
Bornn said anyone needing help can call the Blackfalds FCSS at 403-600-9066 or the 24-hour Red Cross emergency response line at 1-888-800-6493.
Many Blackfalds residents have stepped up to offer help.
“We appreciate the support. We are trying to get organized and understand the nature of the need. We’re trying to figure out how many folks are affected and figuring out what the needs are. If anyone has anything to offer we ask them to call the FCSS main line at 403-600-9066.
“We live in an amazing community full of supportive people,”
said Bornn adding that they will have a better idea what the situation looks like once the town gets the all clear from Blackfalds Fire Chief Robert Cote for residents to return to the area.
“It’s just evolving.”
The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined and is still under investigation.
“Right now they are going over the situation and just trying to assess the source of the fire making the area safe,” said CAO Thompson.
Blackfalds RCMP and Community Peace Officers, with the support of the Blackfalds and Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit, as well as Lacombe and Red Deer Police Departments, were on scene to ensure the safety of residents and cordon off a perimeter.
According to the Town of Blackfalds, there is no immediate concern for safety of nearby residents from smoke and debris resulting from this fire; however, for public safety concerns, residents are asked to stay clear of the incident site while the investigation is ongoing.
The Town of Blackfalds would like to extend thanks to all the volunteers that helped throughout the night including the Red Cross, Klassic Kennels, and Victim Support Services.
It took 24 firefighters, three pumper trucks, one rescue unit and one mobile command unit to completely extinguish the fire, according to the Town of Blackfalds.
Firefighters were on scene within eight minutes of the initial 911 call and were able to contain the fire within two hours.
“This quick and effective response allowed firefighters to prevent additional damage to neighbouring homes,” said CAO Thompson in a prepared statement Friday afternoon.
Updates to this situation will be posted to the Town of Blackfalds Facebook account.
By Lisa Joy