A late evening fire on Dec. 8 burned a home to the ground in the 6000-block of Green Lake Road North.
Watch Lake-North Green Lake Volunteer Fire Department chief Andy Palaniak says the call came in as a “fully engulfed house fire” just after 8 p.m., and six vehicles and 17 firefighters were on scene by 8:15 p.m.
The home was unoccupied at the time, although there were tire tracks in the snow on the driveway, he adds.
Palaniak says the crew fought hard for about two-and-a-half hours, and while the home was destroyed, the neighbouring structures and a trailer on the property were saved.
However, firefighters were not only hampered by the severe cold (-25C), but also by the property’s utility lines, he explains.
“There was a live hydro wire down that was arcing and sparking, so that kind of limited us from the west side a little bit.”
That’s not all the chief and his crew faced in fighting this large blaze.
Palaniak says a natural gas line was burning for almost three hours before a FortisBC crew arrived to shut it off.
“So, the problem was we had the live gas line just spewing flames into the burning building. And, of course with the ground being frozen, they had to manually dig down to the gas line.”
It was just after 11 p.m. before the gas crew could crimp off the pipe and stop the flow of gas, he adds.
Palaniak says that allowed the firefighters to extinguish the last of the flames, everyone was deemed safe and the neighbours were additionally protected with all the snow on the ground, so the crew headed back to the hall at around 11:30 p.m.
While he has no idea what started it, the gas line is unlikely to have had anything to do with causing the fire, he says.
The fire chief adds the fire was “very intense” and there was nothing much left of the home but ash – and an unexpected token.
“The gas [crew] went the next morning, and I went over just to check it out, and they’d found the gas meter, which was literally the size of a dinner plate and about an inch thick – totally melted, just like a little blob of aluminum.”
Noting there was also a large stack of firewood next to the house “didn’t help matters,” Palaniak adds fire departments are “constantly reminding people this is a bad idea.”
The raging, large fire was seen by residents on the other side of the lake, including the South Green Lake Volunteer Fire Department members who were ready to provide mutual aid if needed.