Officials warn about fire pit dangers after St. Vital blaze destroys home
Published Friday, August 31, 2012 6:29AM CST
Last Updated Friday, August 31, 2012 5:40PM CST
Fire officials are warning Manitobans about the dangers of bonfires and fire pits after a fire broke out in St. Vital Friday.
The fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. in a home on Sadler Avenue off of St. Mary’s Road.
Two people were inside the home when the fire started and had to scramble to escape. One man was taken to hospital.
By the time fire officials arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames.
Neighbour Christine Krahn and her husband woke to find the power out and were then forced to leave their home quickly.
“I asked my husband to look outside to see what was going on and then he told me, ‘There’s a fire next door. We have to evacuate,’ ” Christine said.
The blaze destroyed the home, causing an estimated $200,000 damage.
Fire officials said they haven’t determined what caused the blaze, but police said it could have been caused by a bonfire in the backyard that burnt out of control.
The owner of the home, Robert Ewald, said he was burning leftover wood from a new shed that he had built. He said he even checked the fire a few hours later and thought it was out.
“We checked it a couple hours later, still nothing – no sign of anything – just a couple of little orange glows,” said Ewald. “Four hours later I woke up to a raging inferno.”
Christine said she feared for her home while the fire burned.
“I was worried it would affect our house because I was told it was burning out the back as well and that there was a possibility there could be damage to our house,” said Christine.
Christine’s husband Doug said those fears were confirmed in the light of day and now their home will need numerous repairs.
“The heat and flames spread over to our house. It damaged our travel-trailer, plus the side of our house,” he said.
Fire officials are now warning others to keep an eye on fire pits ahead of the long weekend.
“(A fire) can sit there and smolder for 45 minutes, then start the fire after you’ve already left,” said Gordon Bakaluk of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
Bakaluk said fire pits need to be at least three metres (10 feet) from homes, decks or sheds. He also said fire pits and bonfires should not be built near trees or power lines.
Most importantly Bakaluk said, make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the area and scan the area around the pit to make sure a stray spark hasn’t escape the fire.
“I didn’t check my grass, to be honest with you,” said Ewald.
Ewald was a month or two away from finishing renovations on his home. Now, all the work he has put into the home is destroyed.
He said he’s just happy his fiancée and dog survived the blaze.