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Nearly 50 fires recorded in St. Albert in 2021

Often what sparks the fires in the city is cooking, said Mike Bos, fire prevention officer with the City of St. Albert, and people extinguishing cigarettes in outdoor planters.
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Fire crews shoot water at the burning top floor as the fire works its way along the Citadel Mews West building on the night of May 6, 2021.

In 2021 nearly 50 fire incidents happened in St. Albert, including the largest one in at least a decade.

In May of 2021, a blaze tore through the Citadel Mews West building, which housed local seniors, and displaced dozens. While investigators did not determine the exact cause of the fire, it is known it started on a first-floor patio.

The fire department tackled a total of 47 fire incidents through 2021, said Mike Bos, fire prevention officer with the City of St. Albert. In total, there was about $14.8 million in losses from the fires, the bulk of which came from the Citadel Mews fire, totalling $14.5 million in estimated damages.

“We've had a couple large fires and that always does challenge your processes and your procedures and causes you to look inward and make sure you know that we’re doing the right things,” Bos said.

“It's stressful for everybody because there's always a lot of work that goes into that after the call to just kind of dissecting it and doing the investigation and all that sort of stuff.”

On top of battling the blazes the department also coped with COVID-19 and the devastating loss of one of its own members, Warren Hillier.

“It's been stressful, definitely, for our crews, for everybody here,” Bos said.

Of the 47 blazes sparked in the city this year, crews responded to 26 outdoor fires sparked in brush, grass, or even dumpsters. There were an additional two commercial industrial fires, six residential fires, and eight vehicles that caught fire.

Often what sparks the fires in the city is cooking, said Bos, and people extinguishing cigarettes in outdoor planters.

“Those are probably the two main causes that we have,” Bos said.

Fires can easily start during the cold months and Bos advises residents to always make sure they have working smoke alarms in their homes.

In the winter, Bos said it's important for drivers to use the appropriate electrical cords to plug in vehicles and that everything is maintained properly in a vehicle.

“We have a number of fires which occur because of [mechanical problems]. People are driving in the vehicles that are out of oil or some sort of mechanical failure occurs to cause the fire in the vehicle,” Bos said.

This time of year, the fire department gets many calls about carbon monoxide. Bos said to never leave cars running in the garage and to make sure the appliances inside of homes are properly vented.

“I mean snow … or ice can build up on the flues on the outside, so we want to make sure that people are checking to make sure that their appliances are properly vented,” Bos said.

It is important to install carbon monoxide detectors inside homes and make sure they are working, Bos said.

Jennifer Henderson

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette
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