Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fire proves challenging for Prince Rupert Fire Rescue

A Sunday night fire just off of Highway 16 near Miller Bay proved to provide for a rather challenging night for crews from Prince Rupert Fire Rescue.

The fire which broke out on the site of a pair of mobile homes brought fire crews to the scene a little after 5:30 in the evening and the situation quickly became one of concern for a variety of reasons.

Besides the lack of an available water supply, resulting in the need for a fire truck shuttle system to be put into effect, the mixed nature of items found at the site kept firefighters on their toes for the bulk of the seven hours they had to dedicate to fighting the blaze.

The home site is the residence of one of Prince Rupert's more colourful characters, who was featured in past articles of the Daily News after concerns over his well being and the report of frequent break ins at his home were reported.

Fortunately, he was not on site, nor in the country for that matter when Sunday's fire broke out.

Sunday night's blaze was covered extensively with articles in the Northern View, as a discussion topic on the hackingthemainframe portal and as the front page headline story of Tuesday's Daily News.

Crews adapt to tricky situation as home next to Highway 16 is engulfed in flames
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Pages one and two

A fire that destroyed a home on the southeast corner of Kaien Island next to Highway 16 posed significant challenges for the Prince Rupert City Fire Rescue Department Sunday night as firefighters attempted to control the blaze for more than seven hours.

At 5:43 p.m. fire department members responded to a report of a residential fire past the Ridley Island turn-off and firefighters found a significant blaze that had engulfed two buildings, only one of which was known to be occupied. Fortunately, the home's occupant was not there at the time, and the RCMP has determined that the sole resident is out of the country.

In addition to the strong winds blowing at the time, fighting the fire was hindered by the fact that there is no water source in the area, and crews had to continue filling up their trucks at the Ridley Island grain elevator throughout the night.

"What was happening was that the turn-around time was so long that by the time we got back after loading the truck up, any good we had done with the previous load was gone," said Prince Rupert Fire Chief Ron Miller.

"Between the wind and the fuel load in that structure, basically, we just tried to contain it and make sure that the public was safe travelling by on the highway."

Another problem was the fuel tank located on the road-side of the property, which required a great deal of attention because it repeatedly caught on fire with help from the prevailing wind.
Miller said the crew was fortunate to keep the fuel tank from either rolling off its stand or exploding from the heat.

The Port Authority also responded the fire to ensure that none of the foam the firefighters were using or any other hazardous materials leaked into the ocean.

"Unfortunately, the nature of the house and surrounding area has been used by the occupant to salvage and store nearly anything and everything, so there was a lot of materials in and around the house that caused minor explosions to go off during the firefighting," said Miller.

"There was an awful lot of pops and unusual coloured flames and smoke going on during the fire, so it was a bit unnerving to fight because of the various different things burning," said Miller.
"It all made for a very difficult evening."

When the crew left at 12:52 a.m. Monday morning most of the structure had been knocked down.

However, he said, the metal roof on the home prevented all the embers from being completely extinguished, and smoke was still billowing from under it at 10 a.m. yesterday.

The on-scene investigation is now over.

Miller said the fire department and the RCMP will be continuing an investigation into the fire.
The investigation will include interviewing the tenant and anyone who was in the area prior to the fire.

Massive fire destroys two structures in Miller Bay
By Shaun Thomas - The Northern View
Published: November 02, 2008 7:00 PM
Updated: November 03, 2008 11:39 AM

Emergency personnel responded to a massive fire that destroyed two structures out at Miller Bay, just past the Ridley Island turn-off heading towards Port Edward, but fortunately nobody was injured in the blaze.

The fire department received the call at 5:43 p.m. and arrived to see flames rising high into the air, and crews remained on site until 12:52 a.m. fighting and controlling the fire. According to Fire Chief Ron Miller, part of the problem in fighting the fire was not only the strong winds but also the location.

“It went as good as it could based on where it was and that we had to shuttle water in…Unfortunately without a water source we weren’t able to do too much.”

“The Port Authority came out and helped make sure that nothing toxic was going into the ocean and that everything that leaked was controlled. We had to use a lot of foam to fight the fire,” he said.

While one of the structures was a home that is typically occupied, Miller said that the tenant was unharmed.

“All reports we have received, and have been confirmed, is that the tenant was out of town at the time of the fire,” he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, pending interviews with the homeowner and people in the area, but the fire department has a general idea of where it stared.

RCMP were quick to arrive on the scene and helped control traffic along the highway. The highway was initially closed to traffic, although it was later opened to one way traffic, and Miller says that is because of concerns about the contents of the

“There was a lot of different things on the property and in and around the home and because of that we had concerns about what was in the smoke. There were occasionally funny coloured flames or funny coloured smoke, so we made sure the crews used proper breathing apparatus,” he said.

“It was a little longer than we would have liked to impede the highway, but fortunately it was a Sunday night and the traffic was pretty light.”

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