WESTLOCK, Alta – Two people escaped serious injury after an explosion caused by a suspected gas leak, destroyed a Westlock County home in the late morning hours of May 17.
Westlock County Fire Services received a call of a structure fire at 10:52 a.m. from a passer-by, who was travelling along Highway 651 and saw smoke coming from the home.
“When we first arrived, the one structure was fully involved — flames coming out from all windows, doors. We weren’t sure if anybody was still inside or on the property,” said Westlock County protective services manager John Biro.
Three stations from Westlock County Fire Services were dispatched to the scene while the Town of Westlock Fire Services assisted. EMS and county peace officers also attended the scene and fire crews were on scene for about four and a half hours.
“The fire originated when the property owner was using a gas stove that malfunctioned and caused an explosion,” explained Biro, noting a possible gas leak in the lines. “(It) was fed by propane so the flames spread into the home very quickly.”
While fire fighters worked to control the fire, it spread to a second home on the property that was close by, however fire crews were able to contain it with minimal damage to that structure.
“With the wind direction the flames were taken across the lawn to the buildings edge, so it was definitely threatened,” said Biro. “When we got on scene that was one of our first priorities was to extinguish the grass that was burning beside the building and at that time our other priority was to keep it from spreading to the second home.”
There was minimal damage to the second home, however, the first home where the fire originated was a complete loss, noted Biro, adding that damage estimates could be close to $100,000.
Two people were at home when the fire began and were pulled off the property by a neighbour and taken to safety.
“They were actually trying to fight the fire, but the fire was too involved. The passers-by as well as neighbours convinced them to abandon the fight,” said Biro.