Fire Dept. said home being heated with a wood burning stove

Neighbours watched from the windows as multiple Calgary Fire Department crews responded to a house fire at 222 Eighth St. N.E. in the community of Bridgeland on Saturday.

Fire trucks lined the street, while Calgary Police and EMS monitored the situation from behind the front lines. Worried neighbours were seen peering through windows to avoid the frigid temperatures and clouds of smoke billowing down the street.

Flames periodically shot up from the small, single grey house. FirefightersThe house was deemed unsafe for firefighters to enter, the upper level was monitored from windows.

Photo by Tom Samoil tried for over two hours to contain the blaze, which threatened to engulf neighbouring properties.

House unsafe

“Crews arrived, did an initial survey, tried to enter the home, and at that point determined that it was unsafe,” said CFD Battalion Chief Ernie Molineaux in an interview on the street in front of the burning home. “We understand there were three people in the house last night,” he said.

“At this point there’s no reason to believe there is anybody inside,” Molineaux stated. “We’re still trying to locate some of the people involved.”

Molineaux said that the gas had been cut off to the home, and that it is understood that the house was being heated by a wood burning stove in the basement.

Neighbours react

A neighbour, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the owner of the home was “a bit of an urban legend.” She said that he was known for being eccentric, with his yard often displaying everything from animal skulls to refrigerators.

“It wasn’t pretty,” she said.

A large set of elk antlers that hung askew from the top of the house were removed when a fire fighter climbed a ladder to evaluate the upper level of the home.

Another neighbour said the owner seemed to be an artist and had many peculiar things in the home.

“From what our crews could see from the windows there was an awful lot of property inside,” said Molineaux. “It was a very, very full home.” He also mentioned that the contents of the house could have contributed to the amount of smoke coming from the fire.

The smell of smoke was noticeable from several blocks away and at times was so thick the house could not be seen.

A passerby, who lives on Ninth Street N.E., said he was concerned about the number of fires in the community over the past few months. He said this is the third major house fire that he has noticed in the area since December.

CFD Battalion Chief Ernie Molineaux said the fire will be investigated to determine a cause.

Photo by Tom Samoil

Cause unknown

Molineaux said that there was no reason to believe this fire was connected to any others in the area and that it was too early to determine if the wood burning stove was a factor.

According to City of Calgary neighbourhood profiles, some 9.4 per cent of the 235 buildings in Bridgeland in 2006 were in need of major repair compared to 4.9 per cent Calgary average.

“We’ve got some machinery coming in to start taking [the house] down,” Molineaux said. “We’ll search through it to see if we can come up with a cause for the fire.”