At 9:00 am on September 12, Peace River Fire Department responded to a report of smoke coming from a building on Main Street. On arrival, the Commanding Officer determined that a working structure fire was in progress and requested further mutual aid resources from Weberville and St. Isidore Fire Departments.
Crews made entry to the building for interior fire attack and search but experienced extreme heat and smoke conditions. Fire conditions quickly worsened, and the decision was made to pull crews out and fight the fire defensively from the outside.
The tight location of the building between neighbouring structures added to the difficulty in fighting the fire but crews were able to confine the fire damage to the building of origin, though some water damage occurred to one adjacent building.
Coincidently, Firefighters were assembled at the downtown Fire Hall when the call came in. “We were just about to start our ramp ceremony in honour of Firefighters’ National Memorial Day when the alarm was raised” said Fire Chief Tim Harris. “We were all in our formal Dress Uniforms and had to quickly change into Bunker Gear to respond”.
Though the Fire Department had a quick response, the fire had been burning undetected for quite some time until the smoke was noticed by a passerby. “It was a quiet Sunday morning downtown with not many people about, so it went unnoticed for a while allowing the fire to fully develop” added Chief Harris.
Though the adjacent buildings were saved, the fire structure was extensively damaged and beyond saving. The front portion of the building was very unstable and had to be knocked down for safety. Further demolition was required to enable the firefighters to access deep seated fire within the middle of the structure. Parts of the downtown core were without electricity for much of the day as the fire impinged on power lines at the rear of the building, and a section of Mainstreet was also closed until 7:00 pm that evening. Crews stayed on scene overnight to ensure no flare-ups occurred and ATCO Electric worked during the night to restore power.
The building was unoccupied, and no injuries occurred. The investigation into the cause of the Fire is ongoing.