2 homes destroyed, others damaged by fire in Calgary’s Riverbend area

Two homes were destroyed and the neighbouring houses damaged after a fire broke out late Tuesday night in southeast Calgary’s Riverbend neighbourhood.

Firefighters responded around 11:15 p.m. to the house fire in the 2400 block of Riverstone Road SE. A second alarm was quickly called due to the amount of smoke and flames shooting from the home.

“The first arriving engine from Ogden actually called a second alarm on enroute because they saw the size of the fire,” Calgary Fire Department acting district chief Trevor Sommerfeld said.

Crews arrived about 10 minutes after being called to find the fire at one two-storey home fully involved, and a second two-storey house was nearly overtaken by flames, the Calgary Fire Department said in a media release Wednesday morning.

Alex McDermott lives two doors down from where fire originated.

“I was actually just going to bed and then we heard some screaming like, ‘Oh my God, a fire!’ I ran outside because I thought it was maybe a car on fire or something like that,” McDermott said.

“But the whole neighbourhood was glowing orange, people were running around. I looked over and the house was engulfed in flames — the first house here — and then it spread to the second house.”

The Calgary Fire Department said crews started an aggressive defensive attack to protect the exposed homes on either side of the two houses on fire.

“We had snow, we had wind,” Sommerfeld said. “Crews initiated an aggressive attack and brought in a couple of our large aerial ladder trucks and managed to stop it.”

McDermott said he had two children and two kittens in his nearby home.

“It’s terrifying. Like, everyone was running around screaming. We just ran out to look and as soon as I saw how bad it was, I woke up the kids and everything and grabbed the cats and just got ready to evacuate.”

He said police then showed up and told them to get out as the fire grew.

“It was quick. It looked like a minor little fire and then the next thing you know, it was engulfed. Up in a second — it was crazy.”​

Sommerfeld said fires double in size every 30 to 60 seconds.

“Really, something like this can happen in mere minutes. Working smoke detectors are vital in structures like this in order to get out, because there is very little or no time to get out,” Sommerfeld said.

The two original homes were destroyed in the blaze and the exposed neighbouring homes were damaged, the fire department said.

Jennifer Pelletier owns a rental home that’s right beside the most severely damaged house. Her property too was heavily damage — and she said she just spent $20,000 renovating the bungalow. Pelletier said it’s disappointing, but the main thing is no one was injured very severely.

“I know that our tenants got out okay. I spoke to the gentleman that was staying in the basement that took the most damage here, and he was out so that was good,” Pelletier said.

Four residents were displaced by the fire. One of the residents received minor burns to his hand and was treated on scene by paramedics, while another was taken to hospital for precautionary measures after suffering from smoke inhalation, the fire department said.

Police responded to the fire to help with traffic control and to keep people safe. Calgary Transit also responded to offer temporary shelter for affected residents.

ATCO and ENMAX were on scene to control the flow of utilities.

The cause and origin of the fire is not yet known. Calgary Fire Department investigators are looking into it.

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