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Saturday , 24 October 2020
The damage done to Avery and Lindsay Pikowicz's house which burnt to the ground on Wednesday. Image credit: Lindsay Pikowicz

Fire north of Fort Kent claims house, took six hours for BRFA to put out

The damage to an M.D. of Bonnyville resident’s house which was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday. Image credit: Lindsay Pikowicz

A GoFundme page for the family who lost their house in a fire in the rural area in the M.D. of Bonnyville has surpassed $5000 in less than 24 hours.

Fire crews responded at roughly 12:30pm on Thursday to a fire at a house north of Fort Kent near Range Road 452 and Township Road 620.

Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority fire chief Jay Melvin said the fire took almost six hours to put out with 25 or so firefighters from Bonnyville, Fort Kent, Ardmore, and La Corey and various emergency services responding.

“It was a very large response, a very difficult fire to fight, and unfortunately based on the fire conditions that we had yesterday, there was no ability to save the structure whatsoever. Unfortunately, everything was consumed,” said Melvin.

Within a half-hour of responding, the house was completely consumed in the fire and caused additional grass fires north of the structure.

Image credit: Lindsay Pikowicz.

No injuries were reported, said Melvin.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but windy and dry conditions have created an elevated risk in recent days, said Melvin.

“This year is kind of an anomaly. Since we had that major fire with Kehewin that we provided mutual aid to on the nation, we’ve been flat-out and we’ve had some large, significant fires that are a lot more than 30 minutes to put out. We’ve been at fires this week anywhere from 6-8 hours on the fire ground,” he said.

Bonnyville fire crews have responded to “large” fires every day since Friday that several hours to put out, and some days there’s been multiple, said Melvin.

Although there is a partial fire ban in place, it would have not prevented many of these fires from happening.

“Every single one that we’ve responded to in the M.D. has either been started based on doing something in their yard that caused the fire or purely accidental, but none of them have been started from campfires or cooking fires…over the past 5-6 days, we’ve been running at about 150 per cent.”

Melvin thanked local employers for allowing voluntary firefighters to leave work to help combat these fires.

Rain is anticipated in the forecast on Friday, which will help dry conditions, but the risk remains in the meantime.

“Today is a scary day for us…as soon as it hits noon to at least up to six o’clock the temperatures rise and the humidity goes down.

“The big thing for the public to be aware of is we have top of the line equipment, we have top of the line staff that are trained, we have volunteers that are eager to support their members of the community, and we have businesses that have the ability to let those staff members go, so they can help somebody else out.

“The public should be assured that if there is anything that does happen within the M.D., that we have the ability to respond and get on it and mitigate the hazard fairly quickly with the resources that we have.”

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.