| Posted: Monday, Dec 31, 2012 11:15 am
A local pastor is thankful no one was injured and the damage to her church wasn't worse after an early morning fire on Saturday.
Firefighters responded at approximately 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning to a report of a fire at Braeside Presbyterian Church. Rev. Connie Lee said the bulk of the damage was to her office.
"I'm just glad it wasn't the whole church," Lee said. "Burned books and furniture can be replaced but I am so thankful we are able to worship in the church," Lee said, noting the sanctuary was spared any damage.
No estimate on the value of any damage has yet been made, Lee said. The unofficial cause is either old or faulty wiring. The church was still able to hold worship services on Sunday.
The Braeside Presbyterian fire was one of two St. Albert firefighters responded to on Saturday and the third in less than a week.
Another call on Saturday morning came in from a home in Oakmont on Oak Point. At approximately 5:25 a.m., the fire department asked the St. Albert RCMP fire investigator to attend the scene. The occupants were all away on vacation, save for one man who is believed to be the owner of the property. He was taken to hospital for examination and, according to the RCMP, is believed to have since been released.
Cpl. Laurel Kading of the RCMP said the RCMP fire investigator typically responds to calls where the cause is not readily apparent, which she said is the case in this instance.
"Until we have a more accurate origin, it's classified as suspicious," Kading said.
Due to the fire department's previous call out to Braeside Presbyterian, Kading said the Morinville Fire Department also responded to the call. Both departments were able to prevent damage to any surrounding homes.
An RCMP press release said that in addition to the fire department and RCMP fire investigator, members of the St. Albert RCMP General Investigation Section, RCMP General Duty Section and the RCMP Auxiliary Constable Section are all involved in the investigation. A private company — Detection Dog Ltd. — has also been brought in. The business provides dogs that are able to detect flammable liquids.
Both fires come only three days after a fire on Boxing Day drove a local couple from their Deer Ridge home. The fire, which investigators say was sparked by a space heater, started in the garage Wednesday night before burning through the roof, which collapsed in some places. Damage is estimated at $750,000. No one was injured. The occupants of the home have been identified as Roland and Cecile Nadeau.
Fire investigator Les Mroz said it took firefighters two hours to fully extinguish the blaze. They were on scene until 4 a.m. Wednesday.
"By the time the fire department got on scene, they were dealing pretty much with a fully involved structure fire in the roof system and garage," Mroz said.
There was only slight damage to a neighbouring property, thanks mostly to the home's stucco siding which prevented the flames from burning right through.
"Had it been a garage that had vinyl siding, there's no doubt in my mind the fire would have breached the exterior wall and likely caused damage to the adjacent neighbouring house," said Mroz. "The stucco maintained its integrity. There's just a little bit of heat damage to the neighbouring home."
People need to be careful when using space heaters or supplementary heaters of any kind, Mroz said. Whether they are electrical stoves or wood or propane heaters, storing them too close to combustible materials, especially when leaving them unsupervised, creates a fire risk.
"You see a lot of fires attributed to heating devices, not just space heaters, but wood stoves, fireplaces. All these things, over the years, the fire services recognize these things can cause problems. In this case, probably through no fault of the owner, this appliance caused some damage."