At 06:13 this morning a concerned citizen smelled smoke in the air and called 911 to report it. The duty officer responded to investigate, and was surprised to see a home with flames burning on the front deck. The duty officer yelled to wake up the family sleeping inside while attacking the fire with an extinguisher. The cause of the fire appears to have been a cigarette that was placed in a paint bucket filled with sand. Apparently the container wasn’t made of metal like all paint cans used to be, but made of plastic- which was a surprise to the home owner- as all that remained of it was the metal ring from around the top.
Thanks to the vigilance of a neighbour, the damage to the home was contained to a small area of the deck, and undoubtedly prevented a much more serious situation from evolving.
This morning we were paged to a structure fire at 8:26 am. Gabriola firefighters responded quickly, and almost all of our members were on scene in a matter of minutes.
The fire was on Samson and Dunshire. It began in a plastic garbage can, which contained items that were left-over from a house-painting project. Those items began to smoulder, then finally burst into flame. (This sort of spontaneous combustion is common when oil-and other some other chemical soaked rags are involved.) The garbage can was against a shed, which then caught fire, and quickly spread the flames to nearby trees.
The fire then spread to the neighbouring house, which was saved, but sustained significant damage from flames climbing the wall and entering the attic space.
All of this was determined by watching the security cam footage from the scene.
This is a good time to remind community members about these key points:
- Oil-soaked rags, or rags left over from painting projects should not go into a garbage can. They should be stored in a metal container, away from anything flamable, until they can be safely disposed of. Piles of chipped trees also have been known to spontaneously combust, and should be spread out 6″ deep, and or the piles monitored.
- If you smell smoke in your neighbourhood, go and investigate. Try to find the source of the smoke. If you can’t find the fire but you smell smoke (in summer when fires are banned on the island) call 911 so that we can come and help find the fire.
- This was a classic example of a tree spreading fire to another structure, and is the reason we ask people to ‘Fire Smart’ their properties to create defensible spaces.
It’s better to call us than to wonder just where that smoke smell is coming from. Today some people reported smelling smoke way before the smouldering items burst into flame. If they had traced the source of the smoke, or called us, it is likely this fire could have been extinguished before it spread beyond the garbage can.
Here are a couple of photos from this fire. Click on either one if you’d like to see a larger version.
A serious fire!
Yesterday morning Gabriola firefighters were woken at 5:36 am by a page that said structure fire. We responded and found a fully involved building – the fire was so dangerous that firefighters could not enter. We did what we could, but were not able to save the house. Once the fire was out, we were sad to find that a person had perished in the fire.
The photos here show what we saw soon after we arrived on scene.
We know you will share our sorrow at the loss of life in this fire. Perhaps this would be a good time to take a look at your own home to make sure that you are as safe as can be, and that you’ve done what you can to make sure that a house fire will not be in your future.
Two fire pages came in just before 3:30 on July 10th. One was for a structure fire, and the other a bush fire. Crews arrived on scene at the structure page to find a pile of debris burning in proximity to a building, a boat and a utility trailer. The fire was quickly knocked down, while other crews searched for the bush fire. It was soon determined these were the same event, much to everyone’s relief. It is thought the fire started in amongst some paint cans and possibly some oil or solvent covered rags.
No one was home at the time, and neighbours and passersby called 911 and worked to contain the blaze and remove lumber from the proximity.
I understand this is another area with poor cell service, and the caller had some problems getting through to the 911 dispatchers.
Did you notice? This snapshot of ours is on the front page of the Flying Shingle this week.
This photo shows firefighter Will Sprogis (in the red helmet) using a thermal imaging camera. The fire we found has been extinguished; Will is looking to see if any parts of the building are really hot, which would indicate a hidden fire that our crews would need to expose and extinguish.
On the left of the photo you can see a bit of a hoseline and nozzle in the picture. If a fire had been found, the firefighter on that hoseline would have extinguished it.
Our fire chief, Rick Jackson, is looking on. He’s the guy in the white helmet.
The Shingle story is here: Fire crews dispatch fire on Brown’s way.
Here’s more about that fire from our blog: A June morning structure fire.
This morning Gabriola firefighters were up early again – this time to fight a structure fire in a small home.
Here’s a photo we managed to get of our attack team inside the building:
» Read more
Gabriola firefighters were woken by their pagers on Friday, April 25th, just before 2 am. “Structure fire” is what dispatch told us; we knew then we were in for a long night. When the duty officer arrived, this is what he saw:
The residents got out alive because their smoke alarms woke them up. Are your smoke alarms working?
(Photo credit: Nigel Denholm.)