By Gloria Wessner.
Gloria is the author of our Faith Forum column and lives directly across the road from the houses that were involved in this blaze. We are so thankful that Gloria and her husband, Marcel (and Buddy the dog) were unharmed.
At about 9:45 pm last evening, there was loud, insistent knocking on our front door as we were watching TV… ’We have a fire out here!!’ our neighbour shouted to us as we opened the door and she turned to leave. Orange flames towering from the new house construction right across the street met our anxious gaze. The flames didn’t take long to cross over next door to the new show home, as seen below, which just opened for the first time March 11.
As they were returning home and passing by, Kevin Newman, Principal of Dr. Morris Gibson School, had his daughter Emily phone in the 911 call when they realized the house under construction was on fire. Mr. Newman began to knock on doors to alert the neighbours – particularly the people who lived immediately south of the show home who evacuated their home. Within a few minutes, 4 or 5 fire trucks from Okotoks and Heritage Point, EMS, Police and Atco Gas personnel all filled the street. Unfortunately, some onlookers blocked the way for some emergency personnel when they were trying to get to the scene of the fire.
As neighbours gathered to watch the devastation, fire embers came raining down on top of us and our houses across the street. The heat was so intense our overhead garage door was too hot to touch, and some of our house siding melted from the heat of the fire. The fire personnel had their hands full as they turned their water hoses onto the houses at about 1200 gallons per minute someone was told; including the occupied home just south of the burning show home. Firefighters eventually had to break the show homes’ upstairs windows and one of the ‘windows’ going into the garage that had been set up as the show home office in order to drain the tremendous amount of water that came gushing out of the house. The fire was contained to the two houses with some minor damage to surrounding homes. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
The owner and builder of the two homes watch the devastating scene unfold as some flames continue to burn.
Today the fire scene is busy with fences being put up and various personnel scouring through the site as they try to determine the exact cause of the blaze. Reportedly a propane construction heater was in use in the basement of the bungalow being constructed to help newly poured cement dry, and they will be determining if this may have been a factor in or the cause of the blaze.
All of us neighbours are breathing a sigh of relief today that no one was injured in this major blaze. There was a palpable sense of strong community feeling as we all supported one another and checked in with each other to make sure everyone was all right, had a place to crash if need be, or even if someone needed a jacket as we all stood in the cold together united by this disaster.