St. Albert family grateful for support after fire destroys home
Candle likely cause
By: By Ryan Tumilty
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 04, 2012 06:00 am
The owner of a North Ridge home destroyed by fire this week is counting his blessings and thanking his neighbours.
“We are safe, and when stuff like this happens, you realize how genuinely good everyone is,” said homeowner Bobby Dugal. “We are so thankful for everyone who was there to help.”
Dugal said friends and family have helped immensely. The Salvation Army was there to help with the family’s immediate needs and neighbours offered all kinds of support.
Dugal, his wife and young son had to flee their home at 76 Normandeau Cres. after a citronella candle sparked the Tuesday night fire.
The fire started outside the home’s front door and quickly spread across the outside walls, destroying the roof and even melting siding on the neighbouring homes.
“The fire origin was right at the front entrance and it rapidly burned up the wall and into the attic roof space,” said Fire Chief Ray Richards.
The home is a complete loss and the fire department has estimated the total damage to all the three homes at between $750,000 and $1 million.
In face of that damage, Dugal is focusing on his family.
“It is property, so it can be replaced, but the most important thing was the family was safe,” he said.
At the scene on Tuesday night, platoon chief Keane Aldous said the fire was already fully engulfed when crews arrived.
“It was a totally defensive fire, because when we arrived the fire was fully involved,” he said. “The primary concern was the exposure of the other homes.”
Aldous said one firefighter experienced some exhaustion, but recovered quickly and otherwise no one was injured.
Richards credited neighbours, who promptly called 911, with helping crews get to the fire quickly. He said crews arrived within six minutes of getting the call.
“Had we had much more delay, it would have been disastrous,” he said.
Richards said neighbours who provided photos have also helped the investigation.
“They really help us determine the state of the fire when we arrive.”
Dugal said the family has received a lot of offers of support and they are thankful, but with help from family and friends they are doing well. He said the Salvation Army was a huge help right after the fire and he hopes people will support that organization.
“We would like to direct any donations off to the Salvation Army so they can help other families like ours,” he said. “They helped us with those immediate needs and we would like other families to have the benefit of that as well.”
He said he and his family ran out of the home with little more than the clothes on their back and the Salvation Army helped right away.
“We ran out with nothing and they were there when the stores were closed,” he said. “They were wonderful.”
The citronella candle was situated just outside the home’s front door, which allowed the fire to spread quickly up the wall.
With the local mosquito population on the rise, many people may start to use citronella or similar candles and should be careful, said investigator Les Mroz.
“The big thing with any type of candle is not placing it close to combustible materials or on combustible materials,” he said.
In this case, being on the outside of the house, the fire also had plenty of oxygen, which fed the blaze.
Citronella candles behave differently than typical candles, because they’re made of oil, not wax, Mroz said.
“If you put water on a citronella [candle] and it is burning or hot, it flares up, just like grease will,” he said.
Mroz couldn’t say if this factor played a role in this particular fire, but said it’s an important detail for other homeowners to know.