HUNTSVILLE - “It’s been busy.”
This Baysville home was one of four fires Huntsville and area fire crews dealt with earlier this week. No one was injured in the blaze.
Those words from Huntsville fire chief Steve Hernen on Wednesday aptly described the workload for the 110 members of the Huntsville and Lake of Bays fire crews as they attended to five emergencies due to the extreme cold weather and poor road conditions beginning Sunday. The calls included four fires, all occurring during a 24-hour period on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a motor vehicle accident, which resulted in the extrication of a motorist from a vehicle that had been in an accident due to slippery road conditions
Hernen said that every one of the firefighters from the Huntsville and Lake of Bays stations were involved in at least one call over the course of the Sunday to Wednesday stretch.
“Some of the guys made it to every call,” he said.
Two of the fires resulted in the loss of homes, one on Tuesday afternoon in Baysville and the other early Wednesday morning in the Port Sydney area.
“The one in Port Sydney, that call came in around 3 a.m. and Huntsville and Port Sydney crews attended that scene … (it) was near Rose Lake, started as a chimney fire and spread to the wall and the roof. By the time the fire department got there, we had a fully-consumed building.”
Hernen said as for the Baysville fire, which happened just after lunchtime on Tuesday, the cause of that blaze will go down as undetermined.
“We believe that the fire started in the basement, near the wood stove. But the damage was too far gone on that one, so that’s why we are putting it down as undetermined.” He added that Huntsville, Baysville and Hillside fire crews were called to that fire.
One of the other two fires occurred at a Sabrina Park residence on Tuesday morning where there was a small kitchen fire when a pot was left on a stove, resulting in minimal damage.
The other happened at the laundry room at Hidden Valley Resort on Monday at around 11 p.m. “I haven’t seen the final report on that as to the official cause of damage,” he said.
Hernen stated that all of the fires are believed to be results of problems with faulty heating equipment and cooking appliances. There were no injuries in any of the fire-related incidents, the fire chief stated.
Hernen said the recent cold spell has forced residents to use their furnaces and wood stoves more than usual, and as a result, there have been more incidents for fire crews to address.
“It’s been a while since we had weather 37 degrees below … we don’t get that on a regular basis anymore, now we are getting hit with it. Everything has to work harder in this cold. Furnaces and wood stoves are starting to act up. We want to remind everyone that even though it can get cold, to make sure that your heating appliances have proper clearance from combustible materials. If you are heating with electric heat, make sure your circuits and outlets are fine. If you are putting an extra space heater in a room, make sure it is away from your drapes.”
He said the fire department is asking residents to pay closer attention to their decisions and actions in trying to battle the cold.
“For example, people are probably pulling more ashes out of their wood stoves right now. They should consider where they are putting them. Are they in a metal container? Are they sitting in a container on their wooden deck just outside the back door? We get a fire from a situation like this every year ... we haven’t got one this year, but I am expecting a call on something like this to come in,” he said. “Or another fire call we get is after someone has crawled under a building to heat up water lines. I am waiting for a call on that to come in. People should pay attention to what they are doing and see the big picture.”