This story was updated with information from Bernard Ouimet on Jan. 6, 2022.
A Deer Ridge family is safe at home this week after a fire torched their backyard garage.
St. Albert firefighters were on scene at 84 Dayton Cres. at about 1:40 p.m. Jan. 4 to put out a garage fire.
Huguette Bileau, 76, said she was resting in a chair in her Dayton Crescent home when she was roused by a loud bang. When she heard a second bang soon after, she looked out her front window to see flames coming out of the side of the garage behind the home across the street.
“The flames were so strong I thought [they] were coming from the basement of the house,” Bileau said, and she was concerned they would spread to two large spruce trees nearby.
“I thought the house might go.”
St. Albert Fire Services platoon chief Bernard Ouimet said he and one of his co-workers spotted the fire while they were driving to Fire Station No. 3 in northwest St. Albert.
“I could see some light smoke wafting across Giroux Road,” he said, so he alerted the fire hall and swung into Deer Ridge to zero in on the blaze.
“By the time we circled the block a few times and got there [the fire] was really going.”
In an email, City of St. Albert spokesperson Alex Cunningham said about 14 firefighters in four trucks responded to the fire, some of whom were called in to provide support due to the extreme cold (it was -27 C at the time, Environment Canada reports).
Ouimet said he called in this considerable backup because he couldn’t see the extent of the fire due to the smoke and feared it had spread to nearby homes. After evacuating the home’s residents (who took shelter with neighbours), crews managed to get the fire under control in a few minutes. It was so cold out the crew’s hoses and air regulators froze; they brought in a bus and an inflatable tent so they and affected residents could stay warm.
Cunningham said investigators believe the fire started in the garage but have yet to determine its cause. The fire destroyed the garage’s roof and two vehicles in it and damaged the siding on two homes, but did not result in any injuries. Damage estimates were not yet available.
Bileau said the affected residence was home to a couple and their two children.
A man who answered the door of 84 Dayton Cres. on Jan. 5 declined to comment on the fire but said he and his family were unharmed.
Ouimet reminded residents to keep an eye on their portable heaters during these cold conditions, and thanked Dayton Crescent residents for clearing the snow around their fire hydrants.