Two young families are homeless this weekend after a fire torched a duplex on Heritage Lane.
St. Albert fire crews were still hosing down the smoking remains of 64 Heritage Lane Friday afternoon as this story went to press, having been called to the site at about noon. The house is one half of a duplex in the Heritage Lane II subdivision near the Riel Industrial Park.
Johannes Bosch, a senior and owner of the house in question, said that the woman he rented the home to had come home from a meeting and smelled something funny in the home. Soon, she spotted smoke rolling across the ceiling.
“All of a sudden she sees flames shooting up like crazy” from the front of the house, Bosch said.
The woman alerted her babysitter upstairs to the fire and the two of them escaped out the back door with the woman’s two-year-old son, Bosch said.
Andy Nikiforuk said he was at 65 Heritage Lane, the other half of the duplex, visiting his daughter, son-in-law and their baby when the fire broke out. A passing truck driver had spotted the fire and knocked on their door to warn them.
“When we saw what was going on, we got the dog and the baby out,” said Nikiforuk, warming up in the car of his son-in-law’s father.
“I could see under the cupola (over the door) that there was something right on the ground that was burning,” he said.
The fire spread to the cupola and engulfed the front corner of the duplex in about 15 minutes, he continued.
Thick white smoke poured from the doors and windows of 64 Heritage as firefighters in oxygen masks ventured in to hose down the interior. Crews used pikes and a chainsaw to take down the home’s garage door and also took hoses into 65 Heritage Lane, allowing a pair of balloons from a birthday party held there the previous weekend to escape.
The fire left the inside and much of the front of 64 Heritage scorched black and melted a large patch of the siding on 63 Heritage Lane (the neighbouring duplex). The fire also reportedly damaged the walls of 65 Heritage.
While it was a bit of a shock to lose his home, Bosch was resigned to it, saying that it was just a home and that he was glad everyone was safe. His tenant had a place to stay and was fully insured.
Nikiforuk said that his daughter would likely stay with either him or her husband’s parents while they got back on their feet.
The Gazette will have more details on this fire later this week.